Review Summary: A super group actually exceeding expectations.
The term "super group" has been coined quite frequently in recent years. Angels & Airwaves, Atoms for Peace, and The Damned Things all have been dubbed to such a standard just to name a few. What makes the group so super though? Is it the fact that icons come together to make one group? Not necessarily. Rather it is when magnificently talented musicians come together to make a premier work of art that they wouldn't have had the ability to create on their own. Following popular Indie Rock group The Format announcing their disbandment fresh off of the critically acclaimed release of Dog Problems
, fans really did not know which way to turn. Lead singer Nate Reuss quietly went about his business and recruited Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff, of Anathallo and Steel Train, respectively to form his own super group. The group's first record Aim and Ignite
, in name and in essence, capture the full senescence, the start and end, of what Fun. was promising to be. That is a group of expert musicians, actually making an unforgettable work.
Opener "Be Calm" starts Aim and Ignite
out with a complete instrumental masterpiece. Lead singer, and composer Nate Reuss right off the bat shows his prowess to arrange instruments to sound their best. In the first 15 seconds of the song you hear violins, cellos, and an accordion. These stay steady right as Reuss begins singing "I've reclaimed the use of my imagination, for better or for worse I've yet to know."
You feel this is communicating right to past fans and new fans alike. The message here is that you shall not worry, just be calm. That is, until the song completely picks up tempo, masterfully at that. "Be Calm" turns into a hyper active, however restrained, indie pop opus. The group shows no signs of slowing down on following track "Benson Hedges", which questions the existence of a higher power, and that we, ourselves, may be our own highest power.
What makes this record so spectacular is that the group isn't fearful to reach for aesthetics in times where simplicity would do just fine. On lead single "All The Pretty Girls", the group doesn't mar from varied instrumentation. They create a work rich in strings, castanets, and a flugelhorn. Similarly on old style dance track "Barlights" the trio shows they can compose an older style dance number. The song is complete with light pop synthesizers, horns, and a gospel music chorus. The group achieves a full light hearted, "swing" dancing ready listen. On love ballad "The Gambler", Reuss seems to know all the cliches, and completely shies away from them. The result is a a story of a life long love barely touched upon with love balladry. The insurmountable beauty, can even bring a tear to Mike Tyson's eye.
Fun. doesn't experiment the entire record though. As bold as they may be at times, they show the incredible knack of sticking to their roots from their past indie group experiences both lyrically and instrumentally. The result is the creation of their best works. On standout track "At Least I'm Not As Sad (As I Used To Be)" Fun. shows us the emotional power of their lyrics backed with an indie pop accompaniment that is skillfully performed by Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff. The song is about a man fresh out of a relationship gone wrong. He is slowly picking up the pieces and beginning anew after a strong bout of depression, and starving himself. The tune tugs on your heart strings, and right to the emotional up-tempo rhythm section at the end, the track still remains to do so.
On "Take Your Time (Coming Home)" Reuss writes a showcase to his doubters, and nay-sayers. "Of everyone who called, very few said we believe in you. The overwhelming choice that I'm just a boy inside a voice and if it's true.. what the *** have I been doing the past six years?"
The track is the most emotional, and most important to the group aside from opener "Be Calm". They know they needed to make a statement on this closing track, and they did.
As the album closes out with the two and a half minute jam session to "Take Your Time (Coming Home)" on the same volume level as Reuss' emotional vocal wales, you feel different. You feel your emotions on the outside of your body. fun. managed to find the vulnerabilities in all of us, and you can't help but grin to yourself. You think that a band just made me feel things I never thought anyone else would understand. Fun. managed to get it right on the first try with Aim and Ignite
. Their emotional appeals with masterful musicianship, and sheer perfect composition added up to create one of the best albums of our generation. Maybe this is what a super group was always supposed to be.
“Me? I'm gonna live forever.”