Fun.’s break out single We Are Young went to number one in the UK singles chart last weekend, so my instant reaction was to wonder what the album sounded like. Oh Michael, you are a fool. I came into this album having only heard the aforementioned single, and I wouldn’t exactly have considered myself a fan. The chorus is fantastically catchy, yes, but the rest of the song is just plain dull. For a song whose chorus screams out, “Let’s set the world on fire, we can burn brighter than the sun,” it feels disappointingly sombre and monotonous. The guest vocals from Janelle Monáe (creator of one of the best albums of 2010), which caused my original excitement for the track, were also nothing special. Anyway, regardless of my opinion, the British public like it, so how does the rest of the album stand up?
Not all too well, I’m afraid to say. The opener, Some Nights – Intro, suffers from a serious case of Muse-itis, in that it tries far too hard to be epic and ends up sounding like a disappointing Bohemian Rhapsody remix. Featuring operatic harmonies, an undeserved round of applause at the end, and various other jarring samples, it feels like a comedy track from a generic musical. It also makes the mistake of reminding me of N-Dubz by making gratuitous references to social networks (“tea parties and Twitter, I’ve never been so bitter”).
The following track, Some Nights, lacks cohesiveness with its own intro by going for a gospel feel. In comparison it’s very easy to listen to, with another of those infectious choruses and impressive production that really fills the room with a warm and enjoyable sound. Carry On meanwhile starts off as a piano ballad, with a first verse that describes a sense of loneliness or helplessness I’m sure many people will be able to relate to, before building to a chorus with the optimistic but unoriginal refrain, “If you’re lost and alone or you’re sinking like a stone, carry on.” It’s a perfectly pleasant song despite the electric guitar solo, which feels slightly out-of-place in the vintage pop sound that Fun. seem to be aiming for with this album.
Also out of place are the several experiments with electronic music, none of which are overly successful. On the more positive end of the spectrum, One Foot attempts to create a stronger sound with a jagged synth riff throughout and mildly distorted vocals. The song does become repetitive all too quickly, but isn’t particularly objectionable. At the other end lies It Gets Better. Now, vocals that have been auto-tuned or fed through a vocoder don’t always mean that the track is going to be terrible. See here or here if you don’t believe me. It Gets Better is the perfect example of where they’re just awful, however. Where it could have been a slightly bland Greenday-esque guitar rock track, the hideous vocal effects make It Gets Better almost painful to listen to.
Some Nights represents the type of album that has been all too common recently: one so desperately focused on trying to create memorable choruses that it becomes an insipid waste of time. Yes, if you listen through, you probably will end up singing one or two of these tracks for several days afterwards. But if Fun. consider that to be a success then they’re way off the mark. Brilliant albums aren’t made of catchy hooks alone. They need to be a complete package, with exciting or interesting production or song writing. The album needs to be worthwhile to listen to as a whole, not just as individual tracks, and in this sense Some Nights has failed spectacularly. And if I were to use one adjective to describe it, it would be anything but Fun.
Favourite Tracks: Carry On, Some Nights, Why Am I the One
Least Favourite Track: It Gets Better