fun.
Aim and Ignite


3.5
great

Review

by Dr Dave De Sylvia STAFF
August 18th, 2009 | 1133 replies | 73,024 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Aim and Ignite is a a superbly mixed and arranged pop album.

While tears were shed and rumours milled over the Format’s sudden split last year, frontman Nate Ruess quietly went about his business. He assembled an entirely new project with ex-Anatholla member Andrew Dost and Steel Train frontman Jack Antonoff. They called themselves fun., though anybody with the misfortune of writing about them on a word processor can attest to just how miserable an experience it is. The shuffling of the frontline doesn’t tell the whole story, however: behind the scenes, there’s a great deal of continuity between 2006’s surprise hit Dog Problems and fun.’s debut LP, Aim and Ignite. Producer Steven McDonald, himself a veteran of ‘90s power pop outfit Redd Kross, returns to produce, but what’s most notable is that Ruess has retained the services of keyboardist Roger Manning, Jr., former member of criminally underappreciated retro pop trio Jellyfish.

Manning was a bit-part contributor to Dog Problems, but here his influence is everywhere. The Format were heavily invested in the more ornate pop stylings of the late ‘60s and ‘70s, but despite that they possessed all the trappings of an indie rock band. fun., by contrast, are a straightforward backward-looking pop act, just like Jellyfish. I wouldn’t be so crass as to suggest that Manning is the reason Aim and Ignite sounds the way it does; in fact, it’s far more likely that he was drafted to help the band realise their own grandiose aspirations. Nevertheless, the similarities are at times striking, and one could be forgiven for thinking Jellyfish are fun.’s earliest influence. There’s the obvious Queen-like vocal harmonies of ‘Benson Hedges’ and ‘All The Pretty Girls’; the baroque harpsichord of ‘I Wanna Be The One’ and the kitchen-sink arrangement of opener ‘Be Calm,’ but they often feel like influences that have been inherited rather than absorbed at the source.

Fortunately, repeated listens reveal much more to Aim and Ignite’s armoury. Opener ‘Be Calm’ is a classic case as “do as I say, not as I do”: beginning with a twee pump organ-and-violin intro, the song becomes an urgent and spell-binding duet between Ruess and ex-that dog. singer Anna Waronker, encapsulating far too many instruments to name and numerous complementary and contrasting melodies. ‘Benson Hedges’ kicks off with close vocal harmonies reminiscent of Queen’s ‘Fat-Bottomed Girls,’ but the melody itself has an unmistakeable southern gospel element (in contrast to the otherwise fairly dreary verse), while the showtune aesthetic of ‘Light A Roman Candle With Me’ is a disarming in a pleasant way. ‘The Gambler’ sits somewhere between ‘Piano Man’ and the Cheers theme, evoking the over-the-top romanticism of a West End musical with the line ”I swear when I grow up, I won’t just buy you a rose, I will buy the flower shop and you will never be lonely.”

Aim and Ignite isn’t the most consistent pop album around, and it obviously doesn’t suffer from an excessive compliment of originality, but it’s a superbly mixed and arranged album made by musicians who clearly understand the limits and potential of pop music. It would be trite to conclude that fun.’s potential is limitless, but Aim and Ignite is a very exciting launch-pad.



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user ratings (843)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Knott-
Emeritus
August 18th 2009



10194 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

lol alright then

though anybody with the misfortune of writing about them on a word processor can attest to just how miserable an experience it is

i agree with this part at leastttt

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
August 18th 2009



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"They called themselves fun., though anybody with the misfortune of writing about them on a word processor can attest to just how miserable an experience it is."

Great line Dave. Very good review also. It provides some nice balance to Adam's.

joshuatree
Emeritus
August 18th 2009



3743 Comments


dis review's the right one

StrizzMatik
August 18th 2009



3176 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album is great, very Queen-ish

Digging: United Nations - The Next Four Years

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
August 18th 2009



4926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yes Strizz, exactly

Digging: Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again

AtavanHalen
August 18th 2009



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The Red Paintings? Really?
Also, I heard The Beach Boys influence in the harmonies long before I heard Queen.

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
August 18th 2009



3762 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

funny, i thought of panic at the disco

Digging: Towers - Bel Air Highrise Plantation

AtavanHalen
August 18th 2009



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Oh har har har

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
August 18th 2009



3762 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

im serious

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
August 18th 2009



7021 Comments


not seeing the PATD influence

Digging: Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty

klap
Staff Reviewer
August 18th 2009



10258 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

love you for the jellyfish comparison

Digging: The Bilinda Butchers - Heaven

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
August 18th 2009



15727 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

yessuh, nicely done as always

Digging: Alvvays - Alvvays

Plinkertons
August 18th 2009



179 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Your review doesn't seem to match the rating...

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
August 18th 2009



15727 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Aim and Ignite isn’t the most consistent pop album around, and it obviously doesn’t suffer from an excessive compliment of originality


or, "why this actually isn't the best thing ever but still enjoyable"

killrobotmusic
August 18th 2009



670 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The only track I have heard so far is At Least I'm Not As Sad... and it is pretty rad. But yeah, the Queen influence (at least in this track) is real hard to miss.

essplode
August 18th 2009



92 Comments


This review is very right.

killrobotmusic
August 18th 2009



670 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I also must say I am pretty glad to see Jack Antonoff finally in a project that is getting some recognition. He was quietly remarkable in Steel Train, but this really shows his musical maturity.

Knott-
Emeritus
August 18th 2009



10194 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

makes me sad that people will read this and think, "ah 3.5 i won't bother then."

essplode
August 18th 2009



92 Comments


Haha, uh? A great rating for a "superbly mixed and arranged pop album." You seem to be taking this reserved rating with an unusual amount of huff.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
August 18th 2009



17200 Comments


review sounds about right.



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