Review Summary: Yes, the man behind most of the instruments in fun. wrote a play as well. And this is the child's concept album that happens to be the music for it.On its own, this album is a 4.5.
Most of you by now should be aware of fun. They've had a song performed on Glee, and because of it their new album is getting a lot of attention. Hopefully most of you are aware of Andrew Dost as well, being the main instrumentalist of the band. If not, you now know who he is. Anyway, around the time the band's debut album, Aim and Ignite
, was released to the world, Andrew Dost was working on a project of his own, namely a play giving a fictional account of Christopher Columbus and his discovery of America. He also composed an album of seventeen songs to go with the play.
This review will be split into two halves. The first half is this album on its own. The second half is the album accompanying the play it was written for.
As you would guess from the fact this album was written by the main man behind fun., this album is for the most part very upbeat and very simply fun to listen to. This brings up the first point; the composition of this album is immense. Dost manages to capture the perfect mood of each song in the music he composes. Songs such as Hey Columbus!
throw you right into the song with trumpets, piano and even a slide whistle bursting in with a very harmonious yet wild feel. You can also hear audience members yelling at each other as if they were watching this performed in some sort of play adding to the wild factor of the song. It's almost like something The Muppets might do. The same applies to most of the upbeat songs on the album. They are all very well structured but still sound like a riot happening in a song. It's very hard to imagine without listening.
There is also a good mix of slower, sad songs on the album. Just about every song, featuring vocals from Guinevere (Columbus' apparent wife) falls into this category. Dost shows us with these that he can do more than fun.'s boundaries ever let him, writing moving songs about lost love and loneliness. The world is flat
is a good example of this. Featuring duel melodies played on Piano and Harpsichord in minor scales along with cymbal rolls, Dost instantly gets across the feel of loss that Columbus must feel from leaving his wife. Dost's almost whispered vocals give a haunting feel to the song, and the melancholic vocals of Guinevere (I can't find the actual singers name) are enough to send shivers down your spine. The song then depresses into a marching drum roll pattern with doo-wop vocals and the harmonious duet of the two vocalists causing an emotional avalanche. Needless to say, it does what it aims too very well.
That is another part of the album which excels. Dost features his friends in smart ways, as they aren’t simply sidelined to the supporting roles. The peripheral musicians become headliners often (like on piano-fuelled Welcome To Our Native Land
), and you’ll barely miss Dost’s pitch-perfect tenor. The one main criticism on this album is the lyrics. They're easy to comprehend as this album is very much surface-over-depth, but at times they seem like Dost just threw in parts to fill in gaps and complete the song. For example, in the song One Man Mutiny
, he references saving Poseidon's life and asks him to save his in return. However, this is not mentioned at all in any of the previous songs, which doesn't make the storyline as convincing as it could be. This is quite important considering this album is one long story put to music.
Though this album is perfect musically, it is let down by the flaws in the storytelling, which is what this album is meant to do well. 4.4/5
The above link leads to the script of the play Columbus
written by Andrew Dost. If you read the script of the play before you listen to the album, the album means so much more as it fills in all the plot holes (E.g. the Poseidon incident). Though the album gives sufficient detail in just the songs, the play gives more back story and makes the album all the more interesting. It also gives you a greater sense of respect for Dost as you realise just how much work has been put into his work. Admittedly, he could have done more; there are extra songs in the play which are not on the album, and it would probably have taken a month at the maximum to create them. These songs are featured on the tracklist despite not being on the album, which is a bit of a middle finger to whoever listens.
It's very hard to get across what a difference the play script makes to the album. This is not a reviewing site for literature, and I have no intention of going into detail on it, so you will just have to trust me on this one and read it yourselves. This is one of the most enjoyable albums I have ever had the pleasure of listening to, with a great amount of emotion in the music and great storytelling when it is necessary. If you like fun.'s first album but thought it a bit too overly happy, this is the perfect album for you.
Overall score: 4.8/5