Saturday, 25 February 2012

Pop Corner: fun. - Some Nights

"What have we done? Oh, my God," questions fun.'s lead vocalist Nate Reuss on his band's second LP. The chorus of "It Gets Better" is the title line repeated ad nauseum...and is a blatant lie. It did not get better. And neither did the rest of Some Nights.

If at least to save any wary listeners their time: the only worthwhile moments happen in first two tracks. "Some Nights" and its intro are downright impressive and worthy successors to Aim & Ignite, echoing the solemn starter of "Be Calm" and then exploding with color and whimsy: the utilization of vocoder effects form a background chorus to Ruess' powerful vocals, documenting the changes in attitudes between said some nights and a musing over what he stands for. Tribal drum beats and processed OH-OOH-WHOA's dominate over Reuss' hunt for a purpose or whatever there is to make life worthwhile, luring the listener into a trap, assuring that, "Hey, this might be pretty legit."

Hook, line, and sinker. From there, unfortunately, the quality falls through the bottom, splitting the rest of Some Nights into two categories: decent songs and outright awful ones.

"We Are Young" has given the band their biggest push to the mainstream forefront, undeservingly. While anthemic, it's largely generic, cliché, and could easily be lumped in with the likes of The All-American Rejects. Most offensively is the egregious misuse Janelle Monáe's talents, a vocalist who could easily match--even surpass--Reuss, potentially making a spectacle out of her appearance. Instead, the ArchAndroid herself is pushed into an indistinguishable and subdued bridge, buried underneath cloying NA-NA-NA-NA's. Speaking of abusing talent, "Stars" drags out far too long in what would have at least been a serviceable instrumental but instead is a vessel for Reuss' voice mutilated by more effects. From rambling to vocalizing wildly through auto-tune and filters, it's hard to tell if it's an homage or parody of Kanye West's "Runaway."

Plagued by obnoxious looped horns and grating vocals on verses and a surplus of "BAAAAAAD IDEAS," "One Foot" is nothing more than an endurance test. In terms of concept, perhaps the pseudo-swagger of the beat and bombastic vocals are supposed to represent the overcompensating facade of confidently embracing one's loneliness post-break up by way of awkward, directionless stumbling. Intentions aside, however, it does not stop the end result from being the second worst song of the album (take a guess at the first). In what must be some cruel punishment to fans and a play on their name, the seemingly intended-to-be-FUN songs are anything but.

But let's at least shift some focus to those previously mentioned decent songs. "All Alright" has one incredibly lazy chorus, written and sung with a pervasive air of defeat, wallowing in its hamminess, but overall saved by melancholic verses that are bound to resonate with many and amplify the otherwise dreadful mantra. Considering its neighbours in the tracklisting, "I guess it's all alright." Songs like "Carry On" show promise, acting as sister pieces to Aim & Ignites more poignant compositions like "The Gambler." However, "Why Am I the One" and the bonus track that seriously could have replaced ANYTHING else "Out on the Town" are pleasant enough, but lack any of the presence on even the weakest cuts from their debut.

It may be unfair and overdone to constantly compare a band's sophomore effort with their first. And yet, even on its own, Some Nights stands as a mess with nothing more than mediocre tracks given the illusion of merit by surrounding them with musical atrocities.


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