Review Summary: One of the most acclaimed albums of 2012, Fun. creates an overrated and Sad. attempt at music.
Fun. came into the music scene by storm in 2011, produced one of the most popular albums, and gained millions of fans. With the amount of attention and stardom the band appears to be having, you would expect to hear an album that is interesting, poppy, and diverse. Instead, anthem after anthem passes and we are no closer to anything that doesn’t sound grating against the ears. The swarm of fans crawling at their feet continues to rise, with recent Grammy nominations for Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and three other nominations. What does Fun. do to create this fan-base? I wonder.
The introduction of the album is also the intro to the song “Some Nights”, which sounds as if the lead singer Nate Ruess is drunkenly rambling after another bender. And so begins the AA treatment. As the character immortalized in the album "Some Nights" stumbles into the meeting, he begins his anonymous tale of some nights. He gets drunk to mask the pain and sadness that encases him; how he cannot quite seem to find himself and who he truly is or wants to be. An a cappella movement opens to a march and a clap, standard for this style music. So the song builds as he continues to explain the situation he has gotten himself into and his cries for help. The Beat drops again and begins to build at the a cappella, auto-tuned section that leads to a mediocre guitar riff that fades with the end of the song.
Stepping back, our character explains how he got himself into his current alcohol induced state, in “We Are Young”. He is but a young lad beginning to live his life, going out drinking and having to carry his friends home and wishing for someone to bring him home. He uses the chorus to its fullest, repeating six times in this just over four minute song. He drags out the chorus with ascending and descending embellishments that are entirely unnecessary and just boring. “Carry On” begins being the support of his fellow AA members. They tell him to carry on, you can’t give up on everything now, when you are still young. Our character heeds the warning as “It Gets Better” begins to grate against the ears. He wakes to a pounding headache, saying ‘Oh my god’ and wondering what happened to him the previous night. The members of AA tell him to keep trying and that it will get better. With a sloppy beat and terrible synth you can hear that he has a hangover from the first seconds of this song. The beat continues throughout the chorus while the synth follows Ruess's line, while the guitar powers through the rest of the song. The character then begins to repress inside of himself.
“Why Am I The One” opens with a soft guitar lick that continues until the chorus. As the chorus begins, a piano begins to pound out major chords while Ruess belts out his sorrows and anger at his own misfortunes. Our character is so down on himself, he must continue to remind himself. “All Alone” continues this theme with the plunky, pizzicato of a harpsichord and another 90’s-esque synth line that lays the foundation, along with a simple beat, for an overused chorus. Our character is all alone, he has no one to be with and the ones he is with don’t care about him. And yet, he is able to see how much his AA treatment has helped and he has finally come to accept his problem and begins understanding how he will be, as the song titled says, “All Right”. Big full chords over a soft piano playing minor chords in the background. A common theme throughout the album, that is most prevalent during this song is the use of two tracks playing over each other. One is Ruess singing the chorus. The other is the auto-tuned version of the same recording, in the same register, with a different timbre. This creates an out of tune feel of only cents off that grates the ear. A string section and a children’s choir is used in order to give the sound of acceptance.
With a hitch in his step this new found confidence of “One Foot” gives our character the feeling that he is hardcore with a heavy bass beat, a repetitive, unison horn line that lasts almost the entire song. Just when you think the worst of it is over, Fun. has to spit in our face with a register change that sounds like the band got super depressed. This occurs roughly in the last 15 seconds of the song. The drunken escapade finally comes to an end with “Stars”. Cheering and excitement in the background while Ruess’s auto-tuned voice reflects on our characters drunken escapade from a drunk to a sober character. With a jazzy horn line, auto-tuned voice continues throughout the entire album, along with a mellow drumbeat and a light and airy String ensemble. With Ruess ending the song on an auto-tune binge, we can finally see the end of the tunnel and be rid of this album for good.
Of course all this is a grave over exaggeration, and the AA part was a little much. However the point of the matter is that Fun. produced an album that is well short of credit it deserves. It becomes boring, repetitive, and down right hard to listen to, though many disagree.