There comes a time, as a critic, when you have to bow your head down to an album that has shattered the constraints of modern sound and introduced a new approach to music that works well. fun., in their debut album Aim and Ignite, has been able to do this through their fantastic sense of composition, variety, and sheer talent.
The band members are not new to show business; the musicians hail from former bands The Format, Steel Train, and Anathallo. As they are musical veterans, they are not afraid to dabble in the unknown. Mixing the sounds of Vampire Weekend, Queen, and an eccentric symphony composed of harpsichord twangs, oboes wails, accordion clangs, and the sweet sound of Belle and Sabastian-esque guitar.
fun. isn’t afraid of tempo changes, difficult vocals (Nate Reuss is the new Freddie Mercury), or not producing a single made-for-radio track. What they are afraid of is the “less is more” ideology. Amidst the chaos of brilliant composition, there is hardly space for air as the tracks build (almost every track starts with quiet vocals and then crescendos into a theatrical finale). There is more room for simplicity; sometimes, like in “At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be,)” fun. can afford to tone down the musical genius to allow for Reuss’s vocals to shine above the complex wall of sound.
The standout track for this album is “Be Calm,” Aim and Ignite‘s opening track. Aside from the romantic Russian-influenced mindfuck, the lyrics and vocals make this ballad. “Be calm/ Take it from me, I’ve been there a thousand times/You hate your pulse because it thinks you’re still alive/and everything’s wrong/It just gets so hard sometimes/Be calm.” Obscure references litter the rest of the album as well. In soft-spoken “The Gambler.” Reuss croons, “I swear when I grow up, I won’t just buy you a rose/I will buy the flower shop, and you will never be lonely.” The ever-confident romantic, Reuss refuses to allow himself to become corny and overdramatic, yet he still allows for love to permeate his words.
Aim and Ignite is not only my pick for album of the year, but also of the decade. It is intelligent, well composed, and thoughtful. A thorough listen will prove that the album has little flash, games, or gimmicks; it is a pure composition of lyric genius and good ole fun.
Recommended Tracks: Buy this album