Review Summary: fun. draw influences from Kanye West, Drake and other hip-hop personalities to bring you a pop record bound with attitude and charisma but it's all still naive.
It's safe to say that individually; the members of fun. are quite a talented bunch. Nate Ruess is well known for his superfluous steps into pop song writing, Jack Antonoff's gritted grin guitar grinding can always be found loud and rebellious on his records and Andrew Dost has a way with musical whimsicality that can capture the imagination in all of us.
Some Nights is an attempt to bring their collaborative minds into hip-hop duelled pop anthems with the help of Jeff Bhasker. Let me say my time with Some Nights has had its ups and downs.
When first introduced to the album, I fell in love with the daring combinations of horn repetition on 'One Foot', string arrangements soaked in bongo drum bandoleers on title track 'Some Nights' whilst Jack's guitar melts across the plains of the chorus. Nate's vocals are cast into duplicates thanks to the inclusion of vocal effects now made more apparent in the album. Everything sounded so large and it was hard not to fall in love but as I listened to the album more and side by side with their debut album Aim and Ignite; I found myself growing apart.
Opening track 'Some Nights (Intro)' starts off innocently and with sincerity as Nate sings:
"Some Nights I hold on to every note I ever wrote" and everything is going well. A cascade of tortured female vocals add tension to an overall thriller setting track that for me; is murdered by obscure sound effects that pull me out of the immersion and this is exactly why Some Nights fails me. In every track there is at least one thing that has me biting my nails wishing I could pluck the obscurities from it.
'It Gets Better': woozy 80's soaked bliss failed by Nate's voice dripping with vocal effects as the production can't decide whether it's best to have him fully soaked in the effect or to dribble it off. It sounds like a coaxed mess. 'We Are Young' shares a limp, lifeless chorus with a generic purpose void of any direct person with a beautiful opening and closing verse and 'Why Am I The One' which offers a simplistic approach to song-writing that sounds like Aim and Ignite minus the layers and layers of instrumentation.
When Some Nights is good though, it's very good. Nate Ruess boasts both his best and worst lyricism on this album, unfortunately mostly the latter. However 'One Foot's second verse is so vicious and truthful, it really stands up for the whole song.
"I will die for my own sins, thanks a lot. We'll rise up ourselves, thanks for nothing at all."
'Carry On' though undoubtedly a song that defines the four walls of cliché, is still a very emotional set piece of what their next album should become if they decide to continue this sound. The drum samples stand proud honouring your ears with ocean-waves of reverb echoing over the city-night Sinatra piano and acoustic guitar backdrop. All of this; set against a harmonising accordion sound.
'All Alone' is another example of the new sound done justice but again; being one of the better tracks on the album and only reaching three minutes long doesn't exactly say wonders about the overall consistency of the effort but this is where I really draw the line. It's what fun. have done with their song length.
Before, fun. songs were un-caged behemoths that broke free of the verse-chorus structure in favour of massive and song-changing bridges.
This is not present on Some Nights. Songs will typically follow a standard verse-chorus song structure and thought it's not necessarily a flaw; it does soak them in predictability.
Album closer 'Stars' is likely the boldest step of all as Nate's vocals slowly swim into spirals of vocal effects slowly until the whole body of the song is drowned and reliant on his auto-tuned voice, much like Bon Iver's 'Woods' unfortunately with less class. It's a long track but musically I find it's very bland, stripping it's skin of the guitar blushed intro, horn stamps and hand clap courtesies until eventually it become purely a drum beat and jingles.
In sooth; Some Nights is a new direction for fun. and one must admire them for trying new things but when all loco-blended instrumentation is thrown out the window in favour for recycled sound effects, drum beats and repetition; it's hard not to complain. I feel the band need to listen back on what exactly made their debut album so good in the first place, it seems they have forgotten that their fans actually liked playfulness and Broadway musical ambience of Aim and Ignite. Let Jack shred! Let Andrew lead the marching band!
In my opinion, I hope they revisit what made Aim and Ignite such a superb record and blend a little better; what they have done here because right now, Some Nights is as forgetful as cheap wine laying limp on your tongue. It probably tasted good at some point but it's leaving you bitter for a better pop album in the end.