Album: Some Nights
Label: Fueled by Ramen
Review by: Bill Jones
Whether music fans know it or not, they’ve probably already had some contact with Fun.’s sophomore full-length, Some Nights. The first single, “We Are Young” (featuring soul musician Janelle Monáe), was covered on Glee long before the album’s release. Then it was featured on Chuck, and then in a major Chevy commercial for the Super Bowl. Hell, it was even used in a video package for the WWE Slammy Awards.
And as fans who have heard the song and ventured to give Some Nights a listen have already found, the single and the album are both well-deserving of the attention they have received. Fun.’s Some Nights is an incredibly strong album from start to finish, save one major blemish, and quite possibly the best album to come out of the indie-pop scene since The Format’s Dog Problems.
Some Nights opens with the “Some Nights Intro,” an operatic, almost entirely vocally-driven piece that sees Nate Ruess harnessing the command and showmanship of Freddie Mercury. It serves as a solid lead-in to “Some Nights,” but it also helps set up the listener. It says, “Hey, if you accept this, you’ll be happy with what is to come,” though Some Nights doesn’t repeat its tricks in the eight tracks (and one bonus) that follow.
Some Nights succeeds in large part because it has great flow from track to track, but Ruess’ vocal work is definitely the driving force behind it. That said, the rest of the arrangements, filled out by Andrew Dost (whose Columbus album is still a favorite) and Jack Antonoff, keep things interesting. It’s also hard not to include the production work of Jeff Bhasker and Emile Haynie in that successful mix.
The instrumental work is most notable later in the album, with two of the strongest tracks coming back-to-back in “All Alone” and “All Alright.” The former starts with some high tones that make way for a great hip-hop instrumental to back Ruess, creating some ridiculously catchy hooks in the process. The latter does a great job of encapsulating the feel of Some Nights as a whole. It’s a moody blend of piano, synth and passionate vocals from Ruess that tell a sad story in the catchiest way possible. And the catchy “boom boom” of the ninth cut, “One Foot,” really makes it a back-to-back-to-back collection of great tunes.
The problem many will have with the album is its occasional use of Auto-Tune, which hits most prominently on the final track, “Stars,” a long and indulgent track that in some ways kills the momentum of Some Nights and may have killed the end of the album if it wasn’t for the bonus track, “Out on the Town.” The song starts well enough, but eventually Auto-Tune completely takes over on “Stars.” And its overuse is strange choice for the band, especially considering that the reason the rest of the album works so well is every song feels like an anthem. Every song is something with which the listener will want to sing along. It is, as the band might hope, fun. The production work of “Stars” takes away some of that fun, and it’s hard not to be a little upset about that.
But overall, it’s not enough to deride the many things Some Nights has going for it. It’s a tour de force of pop anthems that are well written and better performed. The band’s fans already know what they’re in for, and it has only gotten better. But Some Nights will likely grab and hold the attention of listeners who may not expect to like this type of music, much like Fun.’s debut and The Format before it did (I’m one of them). It’s an album that’s good enough to transcend its genre and bring a new audience to the table, and that speaks volumes about how much – dare I say it – ‘”fun” Some Nights really is, flaws and all.
For more information, www.fueledbyramen.com
Pads & Panels received a copy of the album on CD courtesy of the studio for review purposes.