Trading in clever, orchestrated pop rock for hollow, overproduced stadium romps, fun. swing big and miss the point almost entirely on Some Nights, their second LP and first with Fueled By Ramen.
I’m not sure if the fault lies with the record label change or the hype overabundance that followed their moderately inventive debut, but the band’s pleasant Aim And Ignite from 2009 had a naivety and playfulness similar to Born Ruffian’s Red, Yellow & Blue from the prior year. This time around, the New York-based trio has taken their sound for a nosedive straight into the same bubblegum ocean where Coldplay’s recent misstep swims, but where Chris Martin and fellow non-rockers mostly succeeded in risky joyous bombast, Nate Ruess, Jack Antonoff, and Andrew Dost now put forth mediocrity so vainly sterile, the most daring things going for them are their album cover and their one-liner band name.
Although proving to be intricate and provocative, the deceiving “Some Nights” and its intro are cabaret rip-offs of both Queen and fun.’s own upbeat “Benson Hedges” – and then comes the auto-tuning. “We Are Young”, a grating pop-romp, is replete with Ruess’ continual nods to burning bright, decisive nights, and not being old. While the band shows ingenuity in “Carry On” with what sounds like accordions and acoustic guitar flutters, almost every song on Some Nights contains the same unimaginative stomp-stomp-clap beat and soulless horn bits. The spacey violin sound collage at the end of “Why Am I The One” is an impressive moment and should have been urgently fleshed out, but the Andrew WK-lite “It Gets Better” and “All Alright” – featuring a banal children’s choir refrain – drown the album. At one point during “All Alone”, I wasn’t even sure if I had switched to Radio Disney by mistake.
By the time “One Foot” and “Stars” come around, you’re scrambling to find your wits to care about the guitar solo blunders and auto-tuned acrobatics, let alone understanding what Ruess is even singing about. Skimming the top, fun. gets credit for its positive attitude and pocket full of catchy melodies, but on the whole, Some Nights remains forgettable.
Essential Tracks: N/A