2013 Grammy Nominations:
- Record of the Year for "We Are Young" (feat. Janelle Monae)
- Album of the Year
- Song of the Year for "We Are Young" (feat. Janelle Monae)
- Best New Artist
- Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for "We Are Young" (feat. Janelle Monae)
- Best Pop Vocal Album
- Jeff Bhasker - Producer Of The Year
Whew, that was a long list.
Some of you may be wondering "Janelle, what the hell took you so long to finally review this? It's been out all year!" And yes, you're right - this is preposterous. Luckily, the Grammys took notice and gave me a great excuse to nix another album nominated last year, in favor or reviewing this one instead in effort to attract readers to a more current topic.
Also, my name's on the album, sort of!
Fun. is made up of Nate Ruess (formally of The Format), Jack Antonoff (formally of Steel Train), and Andrew Dost (formally of Anathallo). They loved the vintage pop sound and catchy hooks, and took to the mission of creating some of their own. Robert Joseph Manning, Jr. (formally of Jellyfish) joined in to help arrange things, and Steven McDonald (formally of… just kidding) produced a bit. That was their first album, and this is their second.
Additional note on this second album, the producer nominated also did Kanye's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" last year.
And while Spotify gives me basically no other information than that, I'll accept it and move forward. Fun.!
"Some Nights - Intro" leads off with a gentle crowd clapping and a cute 20's-esq piano play in and gentle voice singing some not-so-20's esq lyrics. Things take an interesting, twisted turn into a dark carnival sound of bitterness. This is so weird, and seems to incorporate every kind of possible scary music, including a very Queen-sounding harmony portion, all into two minutes.
This all leads in to one of my favorite songs of the past few months, "Some Nights." I ADORE THIS SONG. K, hope we're all on the same page here. It's full of bitter strength in spite of everything. It's an anthem for the angry twenty-something, conflicted with the pressures of balancing partying and frigin' awful people. Musically - and I don't speak of that enough in conversations on this song - the beat is incredible and I just want to scream out to it. Seriously, drop what you're doing and be pissed and scream this out the car on a cold night. It does wonders for your mood. "Sorry to leave Mom but I had to go - who the fuck wants to die alone?" Then the slow pretty part comes in - and I mean the party about his nephew - that makes me thing of my cousin to no end. "The most amazing things come from some terrible lies…" (I love you little River man!!) Even the electronic weirdness on that note hold out is okay by me. And this may be the longest blurb I've ever written on a single song. I'm going to listen to it again and get back to y'all in a minute… After all: "It's for the best we get our distance."
(OK - side note: I look up videos *after* I do the album review so that my opinions of songs aren't skewed by visual love or hate… I had no idea this actually was a single…)
Sounds like we're just slightly slowing things down with a nice strum for "Why Am I the One." Pretty simple sentiment set to an old 60's sound, especially in the harmonies. I didn't listen too terribly hard to this one, but I caught moments that I really liked. It came across, at least to me, as a story about a guy. One of those inner-monologue moments just too good to leave out of song form for the world to hear.
"All Alone" has a slight hip hop beat, just further making me love this band and their quirky, try-anything style. There's a little video game shut-down sound before the 2nd verse that I think a lot of people are going to miss, but I like the effect. I think this one moves down from the 20-somethings to the way they felt as teens instead. Oh angst, how you will never leave my generation alone.
Man, this album makes for really good background music when you're in your childhood home late and alone. "All Alright" is sort of slower, but not really? I guess it's a theme on acceptance of how things are, especially when you don't have the heart to fight it anymore. "I never claimed to be more than a one night stand." Can I take this moment to say that boys suck? Throw rocks at them. Yup, so this is a decent lonely song. Can never have enough of those.
"One Foot" is okay. It's loud and obnoxious, but I mean that in a nice way, promise. Lots of self-reliance preaching in this one, but at least there's an extreme element of self-awareness alongside it. I'm not a huge fan of the horns blaring, but it's not awful. So the sound of the music isn't exactly my cup of tea - so what? At least I'm not disgusted listening to the lyrics as it was in a previously reviewed album or 20 or so. At least this is a respectable story happening.
I like "Stars" as a semi-closing track (there's two bonuses too). There's a cool dance element, a little too much electronic effect vocally, and various beats throughout to keep things interesting. Talk about experimenting with sound; I think this song's got about everything you could want on one track. Of course, it's closing in around seven minutes long, so this could all become repetitive and typical for the entire song, but halfway through it's still disjointing and oddly okay.
"Out on the Town" is one of the bonus track, and it's got my ears perking up a little more. Love and loss and nothing about what I wore. Regardless, it's a good story that's got me hooked. I mean, granted, there's a lot of songs I somehow relate to, but this is one of those life-story moments. Musically, it's lighter than about half of the rest of the album, almost finally feeling like it's not trying so hard, but probably amongst the best overall. It's not one I'd want to throw in someone's face, but man, it's got my closing my eyes and sighing heavily.
The final track, both bonus or otherwise, is an acoustic version of "We Are Young." Welp, we already know we like the lyrics and general feel of the song. The acoustic touch makes it interesting and touching. This is more like what you'd try to imitate around the campfire or piano with some friends because you feel the song is totally and completely y'alls.
Added to My Playlist:
- "Some Nights"
- "We Are Young" (feat. Janelle Monae)
- "Carry On"
- "All Alone"
- "All Alright"
- "Out on the Town" (Bonus Track)
- "We Are Young" (feat. Janelle Monae) (Acoustic Bonus Track)
Well damn, an album that finally lives up to its hype. Seriously, this was a unique and great time as a whole. Not every song's a complete winner for me personally, but I could see them hitting better with other people. The band's got something awesome going on here that resonates with the generation they're reaching out to perfectly. I need a good band like this to come around just about this often to have this kind of impact. Perfection.
Also, the lead singer looks like a mix of a young Kevin Bacon and Macauley Culkin.