What happens if you splice the DNA of Queen and ELO? You get something not unlike this east coast indie rock treasure’s debut album.
Brimming with unconventional instrumentation for an indie group – there’s a small string ensemble on most songs, and a few songs even add a small brass ensemble and a gospel choir for good measure – fun. is nothing if not confident that their material is strong enough to shine through the unusual approach. (An arrangement assist from Jellyfish alumnus Roger Joseph Manning Jr. probably didn’t hurt – that alone, basically constituting a stamp of approval from a key member of the last band that I can remember storming out of the starting gate with this much originality, should excite fans of good music right there.)
It doesn’t hurt that fun.’s lead singer sounds a bit like a young Freddie Mercury. His range is incredible, and we’re not just talking about a purely mathematical measurement of how many octaves he covers. He can go from sweet balladeer to roaring rocker in an instant – the thought occurs that, on stage, this guy is probably one hell of a showman. (I don’t make comparisons to Mercury lightly, either – that’s hallowed ground for anyone who’s been listening to rock music longer than ten minutes, and [dude] is striding across that ground with remarkable self-assurance.)
Highlights include “Barlights” (normally I wouldn’t get too attached to a song about going on a pub crawl, but the odd juxtaposition of having the praises of the aforementioned pub crawl sung by a gospel choir makes this an instant classic), with “All The Pretty Girls” reminding me strongly of ELO’s “Sweet Talkin’ Woman” with its punchy backbeat and infectious harmony. “I Wanna Be The One” and “Light A Roman Candle With Me” will also be a favorite among people listening for the group’s ELO influences; though the songwriting style is not at all like Jeff Lynne’s, the way the songs are performed and produced is like a comfortable old shoe for those of us raised on Lynne’s repertoire. I also have to give a shout-out to the mad reggae-inspired stick work on “Walking The Dog”.
fun. has a new album coming out in February, Some Nights, which fans are looking forward to eagerly. If it sounds even remotely like fun.’s debut, we might just have a new pop supergroup in the making. The fact that fun. songs have been covered on Glee would seem to indicate that the groundswell of support for them is just beginning – and the amazing thing, in this music-video-dominated age, is that all this goodwill seems to be about a bunch of damned good songs and amazing performances.
- Be Calm (4:09)
- Benson Hedges (4:00)
- All The Pretty Girls (3:22)
- I Wanna Be The One (3:36)
- At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be) (4:06)
- Light A Roman Candle With Me (3:09)
- Walking The Dog (3:39)
- Barlights (4:17)
- The Gambler (4:11)
- Take Your Time (Coming Home) (7:51)
Released by: Nettwerk Records
Release date: 2009
Total running time: 42:15