Review Summary: Why don't we break the rules already?
I love the simplicity of the SputnikMusic rating scale. I even use it to organize other media and ideas into ratings. The only complaint I’ve ever had is the adjective that accompanies the highest rating: “Classic.” This has never made sense to me, as every other adjective used in the scale strictly describes overall quality. I tend to think of albums I rate at the top of the scale as “perfect,” or at the very least “fantastic.” The word “classic” implies that its subject has left a mark, made a difference, and had significant influence over a large amount of people. I’ve always found it an unfair qualifier for rating brand new albums. Upon my first listen to fun.’s Some Nights
, I began to wonder if I had found an album that reaches the top of the scale in both quality and influence.
I was correct, at least about the perfect quality of the album. Of course, only time will tell if Some Nights
becomes iconic in any way. However, if the unexpected catapulting of lead single “We Are Young” to the top of the iTunes charts is any indication, fun. will likely reach the hearts of millions of casual mainstream listeners with this album. The way that the songs radiate accessibility is astounding, especially considering how lyrically stellar and musically satisfying they are for those who prefer to dissect what they’re hearing.
is gripping from start to finish. As the introductory track begins, listeners are greeted in a recognizable manner expected from Nate Ruess. Building piano and strings accompany vocals that are both intriguing, emotionally rich, and draw inevitable comparisons to Queen. As the track progresses, a long-time fan of Ruess’s work may take notice that something is different here. Increasing amounts of electronic effects and low synth notes enter the mix until full hip-hop booms are crashing through the symphony as the song climaxes. It’s the perfect way to ease old and new listeners into the unique sound, as well as proof that fun. are still perfectly capable of doing what they’ve demonstrated in previous work, but have decided to try something new.
Nate is at his best vocally, particularly on the title track. His voice flows seamlessly along the African drum patterns as he growls aggressive lines like “This is it, boys! This is war! What are we waiting for? Why don’t we break the rules already?” The album’s vocals, while stunning, are also what have been the most polarizing element among fans. Several songs apply auto-tune to Ruess’s voice, used like a solo instrument rather than a disguise. It’s a fantastic compliment to the new sound, though it may be a setback for those who don’t like the production.
“The production” can be a rather vague term when referring to this album. Styles range from pounding and ethnic (previously mentioned “Some Nights”) to robotic and electronic (“It Gets Better”) to fuzzy noise-pop (“One Foot”). Despite taking on such an array of sounds, Some Nights
manages to maintain a cohesive flow so well that listening from beginning to end is not only more enjoyable, but highlights the relevance of each track perfectly. It’s also exciting to hear pieces of songs interacting with each other, such as the string phrases used in a dream-like outro sequence following “Why Am I the One” that later resurface in the closing track. While the change in sound here from the band’s previous release, Aim and Ignite
, is drastic, the band retains a signature feel that reminds the listener that the group has stuck to its roots.
It's still days before the official release date of Some Nights
, and fun. are already generating swarms of press coverage and buzz. Whether it’s because of a hated television series or simply word of mouth, there’s no denying that this album will spread far and wide. Fortunately, it deserves it. The combination of old and new techniques is flawless, and it’s a genius way to keep old fans listening while gaining plenty of new ones. Here’s to the nights I’ll spend listening to this classic album, for there will definitely be more than just some.