Narendra Kusnur's music musings …


Some Nights/ Fun

Genre: Alternative pop-rock

EMI Music/ Rs 395

Rating: ****

AFTER getting this CD from EMI Music’s Mumbai office, I didn’t bother to open it for two weeks. From the cover, I thought a strange-sounding album called ‘Some Nights’ by a stranger-sounding band named Fun would be some run-of-the-mill bubblegum pop or a poorly-made techno recording meant to be heard with 200 kg cotton in one’s ears.

But I was really hungry for some new music, and soon, Googled ‘Some Nights Fun’. Immediately, I was surprised to learn that it was an American alternative rock band. Curious, I tried it out, and my first reaction was to find huge influences of 70s and 80s acts like Queen, Simon & Garfunkel, Elton John,  Electric Light Orchestra and Men At Work, blended with a contemporary alternative pop-rock flavour that makes it sound very ‘now’.

Ever since, Fun has been regularly playing on my system. The Queen influence is very much there in the opening title track, and keeps cropping up regularly. And though it would be unfair to compare lead vocalist Nate Ruess with the great Freddie, his voice definitely has a freshness and flexibility that makes it endearing. Add to that some catchy tunes, 70s-meets-80s-meets-90s-meets -2000s melodies, charming harmonies and humorous lyrics, and this is clearly one of the better albums of 2012.

The two-part title song is the clear highlight. Part 1, called ‘Some Nights Intro’, has a neat piano line, and theatrical, operatic backing vocals, with Ruess getting into the high notes effortlessly. Very, very Queen. The main part has strong drums and infectious choruses, and here, the instrumentation takes on a Paul Simon mood.

The popular ‘We Are Young’ starts with marching band drums, a vocal intro clearly influenced by Simon & Garfunkel, a chorus reminiscent of Queen and a catchy hook throughout. ‘Carry On’ starts with a melodic vocal and piano, and gets into lines like “If you’re lost in a zone or you’re sinking like a stone, carry on; May your past be the sound of your feet upon the ground, carry on’. A sizzling guitar riff completes the song.

‘It Gets Better’ is probably not one of the better bits here. Though it’s an uptempo, percussion-heavy piece with an 80s pop feel, it sort of jars, and seems a bit out of place. But ‘Why Am I The One?’ is a brilliant ballad, with smartly-done harmonies on the lines ‘Go on, go on, go on, if you were thinking that the worst is yet to come, why am the one always packing up my stuff?’ The strings at the end are super.

‘All Alone’ is a brisk piece with smooth synthesisers, and marvellous arrangements.  On ‘All Alright’, the vocals go ‘It’s all alright, I guess it’s all alright, I got nothing left inside of my chest, but it’s all alright.” Nice, sing-along tune.

‘One Foot’ is a bit cacophonous — too many vocals, horns, synthesisers and drums happening at the same time. ‘Stars’ is a wonderful composition, with a nice hook, a hummable chorus line and pleasant guitar, but one wonders why they have used so much auto-tune to vary Ruess’s voice. Finally, the bonus track ‘Out On The Town’ has tongue-in-cheek lines like ‘I was out on the town, so I came to your window last night, I tried not to throw stones but I wanted to come inside’.

All in all, an album one can hear repeatedly. And now that I’ve been listening to it so regularly, I did a bit of Net research, and discovered that while Ruess is at the forefront, Jack Antonoff and Andrew Dost have played all the instruments between themselves. The group had earlier released an album called ‘Aim & Ignite’, which I’d love to hear. Till I find that, I plan to have fun with Fun on ‘most nights’ and not just ‘some nights’.

RATING SCALE: * Poor; ** Average; *** Good; **** Excellent; ***** Classic

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