fun.
Aim and Ignite


5.0
classic

Review

by Adam Knott EMERITUS
August 10th, 2009 | 374 replies | 22,674 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: On its first listen Aim And Ignite is pretty much the definition of fun; as it sinks in it reveals its depth and complexity, and it's basically impossible to come out the same way you started.

You can't make much more of an opening statement than fun. have. Their band name is a three-letter message of intent with abrupt punctuation for dramatic effect. Their debut album's artwork comprises almost exclusively primary colours in a deliberately basic design. Track five, and the first single, is opaquely titled At Least I'm Not As Sad (As I Used To Be). You can't make much more of a statement. They've called their first record Aim And Ignite, and it's got songs called All The Pretty Girls and Light A Roman Candle With Me. They've written blogs galore about 'moving up, out, onwards' and how, finally, they're where they want to be. No, you can't make much more of a statement. Until you start playing.

It's funny when Nate Ruess, formerly of The Format, sings 'be calm' in the chorus of Aim And Ignite's opening song, because he's not. He never is. By the time three minutes have passed, he's shouting maniacally atop stomping, theatrical guitars, strings and trumpets, and that's when you realise fun. have nothing calm about them. Their debut album is a passionate performance which moves with urgency, even when it's not quick, but it's more than that. It's huge. It employs an orchestra, a gospel choir, female backing vocalists, horns, handclaps, and an insane number of session musicians, and it manages to never, ever get lost beneath its weight. Steel Train's Jack Antonoff and Andrew Dost (formerly of Anathallo) join Ruess to make up the foundations – the guitars that drive everything and form the base from which to work. But what grows from it is huge.

It's difficult to know where to start in terms of influence. Classic 60s and 70s pop music melds with modern-day indie-rock for the most part, but it's nowhere near single-minded or simple. It's a record which clearly owns its own skeleton; it never imitates or copies, but borrows ideas in their most abstract forms to re-shape and transform them. Like the start of the 8-minute closer, Take Your Time (Coming Home), which initially recalls one of the low-pitched chants from the Lion King, and re-uses those same da-na-nas midway through as Ruess argues his case against anyone who doubted him after The Format broke down. There are lyrical flashbacks to his previous band everywhere, both in quick one-liners ('I'm through with causing a scene') and entire stanzas of reflection. But fun. is a damn accurate name, and Ruess is not a bitter man. He's fucking happy. There's a constant thread of unrestrained joy running through Aim And Ignite, as he delivers his typically razor-sharp observations in much the same way he used to, except this time, the underlying pain is gone, stripped away, revealing an open layer of ecstasy.

It's there in the music, but it's executed in so many different ways. I Wanna Be The One's brass-supported, head-bopping intro is far from the euphoric provocation of Benson Hedges' chorus hook – 'Holy Ghost, won't you come out to play! 'Cause if the Lord's gonna find me … he'd better start lookin' today!' – and Walking The Dog's electronic quirkiness sounds nothing like The Gambler's inherent optimism, but it's all part of the same dynamic. Whethe r Ruess is putting on his softest, most pensive tones or shrieking the room to pieces, there's an unrelenting sense of don't-look-back happiness which, in all its beauty, is the life and soul of Aim And Ignite. It's a fun record, but it's not mindless or simplistic. These songs change direction and move, vibrant and alive with their enthusiasm and joyous abandon, often driven by the subtlest of things, like the unconventional and cheerful piano line that maintains the tension of Benson Hedges' second verse.

And then there's The Gambler, a piano-led ode to Ruess' parents. Though it gains cinematic atmosphere later on through its background strings, it remains evidently personal and emotional, with some absolute gems of poetry, and when it hits the climactic line 'You swore you'd be here 'til we decide that it's our time, but it's not time, you never quit in all your life', Ruess threatens to spill over for the first time. It's not a weighted feeling, though, it's celebratory, and that's where Aim And Ignite succeeds in prolific style – it sounds fist-punchingly unrestrained and emphatic with the handclaps in All The Pretty Girls' bridge, but that's nothing without the soul and intelligence underneath. The slight hesitation in Be Calm's 'these days before you speak to me you … pause' is one of the hundreds of fleeting, delightful things to grin about for a split-second before you've heard another one.

I tried so hard not to give this record a 5 but on scrutiny it simply gets better and better, and the more familiar it becomes, the more in love you fall. For the most part, the songs on fun.'s debut album sound like more restrained cross-sections of Dog Problems' title-track, injecting pop music with rock, soul, vigour and energy and not once sounding like it gives a damn about the outside world. It's sugary and sometimes sweet to a massive degree, but its track listing enables Aim And Ignite to rise and fall dramatically and creatively without any sort of formula emerging. The only thing these songs have in common is their desire to make people happy, and that intention seems minor in comparison to their actual effect. It's practically impossible to come out the other end in the same mood you entered with, because Aim And Ignite is an album which picks you up and gets the hairs on the back of your neck tingling like all the best pop records do. Forget about The Format. Hell, forget about the Beach Boys. This is perfect.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Knott-
Emeritus
August 10th 2009



10194 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

http://www.myspace.com/fun - streaming at their myspace for the record

And yeah, a 5. I tried not to, but it is my honest opinion that this is as good as Dog Problems, and I would have had a very hard time giving this just a 4.5.

Waior
August 10th 2009



11425 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

A FIVE?! Oh, right!

I'll be checking this out soon enough, congratulations on 50 stupidly great reviews.


Knott-
Emeritus
August 10th 2009



10194 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Yeah, I just couldn't do it lol.

My word processor pissed me off to no end when I was writing this, telling me to put capital letters after the band name. Damn you kids and your punctuation.

atrink
Contributing Reviewer
August 10th 2009



2809 Comments


wow pretty quick writting.

Knott-
Emeritus
August 10th 2009



10194 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Haha. It's been leaked for ages.

I know the summary is going to get me a reasonable amount of stick, but that's the way it goes.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
August 10th 2009



15727 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

ok ill download this

edit: strikey you would probably love kiss kiss' stuff this is reminding me of a beach boys-ified version of them

Digging: Alvvays - Alvvays

LiveForMusic
August 11th 2009



64 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Hearing this CD made my day and possibly my year.

Plinkertons
August 11th 2009



179 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is the album of the year.

Knott-
Emeritus
August 11th 2009



10194 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

araghagrghrg you're so possibly right

cheers downer, loving it

AtavanHalen
August 11th 2009



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Heart the review babe, can't wait.

ryan42138
August 11th 2009



65 Comments


wasn't expecting much, but im loving this so far

Zip
August 11th 2009



5312 Comments


It's ok

Douglas
August 11th 2009



9061 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

So checking this out

EDIT: Reminds me a lot of the The Rocket Summer for some reason.

robin
Emeritus
August 11th 2009



4241 Comments


gonna get this after your frightened rabbit victory

Roach
August 11th 2009



2149 Comments


I really really don't like The Format but I might check this out.

Kiran
Emeritus
August 11th 2009



6000 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

needed new music for a 16h plane ride so hopefully this, kiss kiss, the dodos and some shitty movies will see me through

Digging: Spoon - They Want My Soul

PuddlesPuddles
August 11th 2009



4767 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I listened to a couple songs off here and they were pretty good, but I don't know about listening to the whole album straight through...could it be too much?

Don't think I need to say it, but great review

Knott-
Emeritus
August 11th 2009



10194 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

could it be too much?

Partway through the first listen through I thought it might be. I was worried that it would start to grate on me eventually, but it doesn't. It actually gets better the more you listen to it. The songs and the album as an entity are even better when you get to know your way around the music - learn the words, know the structures. And the tracks you've heard are probably the most kitchen-sink of the tracks here - the track listing is such that it never feels like a chore or too much.

That's not to mention that the opener is one of the most awesome songs ever.

Plinkertons
August 11th 2009



179 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The opener is easily the best song on the album, it's Queen-esque.

PuddlesPuddles
August 11th 2009



4767 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Then consider me sold, Mr. Knott. I'll listen to the entire album today, promise.



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