Review Summary: http://darkdaysmusiccentral.blogspot.com/2015/06/nate-ruess-grand-romantic-album-review.html
Nate Ruess is talented. There’s no doubting this, as he fronted the indie pop band Fun for a few years, and prior to this was in The Format, along with other bands. Though some may expose him as just a cheap imitation of Freddie Mercury as in his derivative, catchy radio anthems released in the Fun era of his career, he is a good musician, and sticks out among the garbage that the mainstream spoon-feeds the media.
But, according to Grand Romantic
, his debut solo album, that would be too cliché to say.
If I had to choose one word to describe the album, I’d call it “maximalistic.” This concept is painstakingly woven in and out of Ruess’ solo album -- from the outstanding aggression on “AhHa” to the fuzzy guitar tone on “Take it Back”, this LP clearly sees Ruess move in his own direction, while still remaining sugary and melodic enough to enjoy. In fact, some tracks exhibit the fact that most musical ideas presented in Fun are mostly absent on Grand Romantic
. Ruess clearly likes to think of himself as a pea in his own pod, but while this album experiments mildly, its music’s blandness prevails as much more noticeable -- and, frankly, it is the least uninteresting feature of the whole thing.
When he hears a name such as this, this auditor doesn’t envision an overly sappy, long-winded explanation of a more realistic version of The Fault in Our Stars
. However, that’s what he receives, track after track, most especially on the song “Nothing Without Love”:
“I wanna hold her in my arms
She feelin' alone, she feelin' sad
I would take credit for what's wrong,
But I am, I'm nothing without love.”
, however, does have some vague hint of potential in it. It shows clearly that Nate is now experimenting with different sounds, and has a lot of room for improvement. The elephant in the room, nevertheless, is the album’s daunting ability to take a brief idea and stretch it into a four or five minute track altogether. Take for example the second song, “AhHa”, which has the constant looping vocal sample in the background. This song specifically brings to me an obnoxious snicker; I think of Mordecai and Rigby from Regular Show making that ringtone; a thought provoked by the most commanding and most aggressive song on the entire LP.
There isn’t really a central opinion to be reached on Grand Romactic
-- you’re either going to love it or hate it. There are many things to like about this album: its many musically idealistic expansions, its newfound aggression, its baroque compositions… And with it come equally effective disqualifications, such as its unnecessarily long runtime and its inconsistency throughout. In fact, after one listen, one can know the tracks they will skip the next time through. Thus, in many respects, Ruess must “step right up” to prove himself a captivating pop star to have material worth publishing or consuming in the future.