fun.- Aim and Ignite

fun.- Aim and Ignite

fun.- Aim and Ignite

I never cared for The Format. My friend used to play them all the time, and it just wasn’t good times for me. They were of the Alternative, semi-emo lot and it just wasn’t my style. Then, The Format broke up, Nate Ruess started fun., and I subsequently heard how these guys were really different and exciting. As fate would have it, I get their CD in the mail, and it came time for me to review it. I was all ready for change, and there were some tweaks, sure, but this was still Nate Ruess, and still not very good.

First off, what fun. does well. The two new members who accompany Ruess to make up the trio, Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff, give Ruess a wider palette of instrumentation. The music feels like a punk take on baroque, with violins and horns clamoring. This isn’t groundbreaking, but it usually makes for interesting results, and mostly, Aim and Ignite does have impressive instrumentation going for it. Not to be too harsh, but the failure of this album seems to fall onto Ruess’ shoulders. The songwriting just drives the promise of the violin/guitar dichotomy into the ground. For a guy who named his old band to mock the ‘format’ of the music industry to make hits, Ruess doesn’t seem to break his own format too often, either. The first nine songs are all a little too similar. Sure, you could pick out differences here and there, but overall, everything is cut from the same cloth. Enthusiastic vocals splatter verbose melodies all over the place, which fail to create any type of catchiness or sweetness. It can be like having an over-caffeinated teacher, who’s skittering around the room, talking loudly, but you catch yourself in a daze, squiggling lines in your notebook. Ruess didn’t, or couldn’t, reign in the emo-ish tendencies he had with The Format, to complement the mature musicianship around him. Each song passes, and you realize the melody sounded pretty similar to the last one, and that it was flying by aimlessly, giving you nothing to hold on to or possibly sing along to.

Earlier I said, “the first nine songs,” indicating the tenth one was an exception, which is the case. “Take Your Time (Coming Home)” is a near 8 minute song, featuring a little more dynamic range in both music and vocals. The instruments take a little more time in parts of the song to be quieter than usual, while Ruess finally lets go of his formulaic style to make a real pop melody, instead of sprinting with a lot of words coming out. Ruess also gets quieter at times, bubbling up in real emotion and not painted on emotion, and helps deliver a good song. The problem is, they made this song sound like it was laborious, and the end result was a good song, not something stunning or irresistible. And that’s really the calling card of Aim and Ignite, where you spend most of the time looking at the clock, or doodling nonsense, or anything to keep you focused, because fun. just isn’t getting the job done.