It’s been a very interesting year for fun. When the band visited the Ohio University campus earlier this school year, they had just released their first single fromtheir new album, the athematic “We Are Young,” without making so much as a ripple in the mainstream music scene.
Things have changed drastically since then.
The tune has steadily gained the band more exposure, first popping up on Glee, and then appearing in a Super Bowl ad for Chevrolet. Eventually, the song would reach Number One on the iTunes Singles Chart. Now, with a large new fan base and expectations from older fans higher than ever, the band is ready and set to release their new album, Some Nights.
The album opens with “Some Nights Intro” and segues nicely into the title track. The former is a piano-driven mission statement with front man Nate Ruess showing off his powerful and acrobatic vocals. The latter combines tribal-esque rhythms with a bridge that borrows modernized pop elements and the most acceptable use of Auto-tune since 2009. Both songs, and the album as a whole, share an affinity for larger-than-life harmonies and incandescent, shredding guitar solos, both reminiscent of Queen.
The album comes across its first misstep with “It Gets Better,” a song that sounded much sweeter in its demo phases, as an acoustic number with a bouncy guitar that drove home the inspirational lyrics. Here, the song’s message gets drowned out by tons of noisy effects. The album’s producer, Jeff Bhasker (Beyoncé, Kanye West), comes from the world of R&B and hip-hop, infusing hip-hop beats and production flair with fun.’s usual indie-pop theatrics; however, the results are mixed.
On “All Alone,” the added bass beats, synth and vocal loop mix nicely with the solid song writing that provides the foundation. “All Alright,” the following ballad, sounds as if it could have done without the digital snare and ear candy (if it had kept just the piano, strings, and soaring vocals, it may have come across as a more powerful track). The standout song on the record, “Carry On,” starts with a lovely piano and acoustic guitar before adding Bhasker’s influence layer-by-layer and culminating with a searing guitar solo by guitarist Jack Antonoff, channeling Brain May. The song perfectly captures the genre-bending sounds that inflect the album.
This colliding of worlds--though occasionally misfiring--provides creative moments and an interesting listening experience that could very well lead to continued mainstream success for the band. Most of its successes, however, come from Ruess’ incredible knack for songwriting and his honest, confessional lyrics. It’s not a masterpiece and could alienate some diehard fans unwilling to accept the band’s new high-polished pop sound. However, it’s a more-than-solid sophomore effort.
3.5 out of 5