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Rockin' Our Turntable: fun.

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 24, 2009 4:40PM

2009_08_fun.jpg Nate Ruess must be some kind of jerk.

Reading the bio of his new band fun. , one is struck by how many of his collaborators -- including his two primary ones in this project
Andrew Dost of Anathallo, and Jack Antonoff of Steel Train -- describe working with him as difficult. Even the new album's producer, Red Kross' Steven McDonald, describes his relationship with Ruess as "somewhat prickly."

You know what? In our opinion Ruess could be an utter and complete asshole and we wouldn't care as long as he keeps producing stuff like fun.'s debut Aim And Ignite, an album filled with songs that take careful aim at the center of your pleasure center and ignites as the chords explode upon impact. This collection of songs mixes musical theater, prog rock, arena anthems, quietly baroque codas, sweetly sung melodies, over the top Jeff Lynn flourishes and crunching stompers together to create something that is indelible, unique, and triumphant.

Opening track "Be Calm" begins oh-so quietly and demurely before unfurling its horde of strings and horns to create a wall of joyous noise that crashes over the listener and buries you in it's delicious rubble. It's like listing to the Beatles backed by Queen, or Badfinger arranged by Jellyfish*, or ELO filtered through indie rock hip with all the extemporaneous silliness siphoned off. (Viz single "All The Pretty Girls" for that last one, right down to the awesome call and response backing vox that make us smile every time they answer Ruess' narration.) Ruess' voice is one of those rare and flexible instruments that can cross all of these lines and connect the bursting arrangements to reality. He is the grounding presence that keeps fun. from turning into an outlandish cartoon. He is the band's beating, bleeding heart.

Simply put, fun. has created one of our favorite albums of the year. Listening to Aim And Ignite is akin to catching an infectious disease marked by non-stop smiles and a buoyant feeling that hovers between constant bliss and the brink of tears. It's the sort of album that is impossible to listen to without feeling the faint tug of heartbreak at the back of your neck. And it's the sort of album that brings to mind the optimistic mood of the perfect sunrise.

It's the sort of album we were beginning to doubt was even being made anymore, and thank God we were wrong about that.

Aim And Ignite comes out tomorrow, August 25.

Listen to "At Least I'm Not As Sad (As I Used To Be)"

Fun plays Schubas on September 24

*Actually somewhat apropos since after we typed that I realized that Jellyfish's Roger Manning Jr, in fact does arrange and number of fun.'s songs, including that album opener.