Considering today’s musical landscape, the amount of time since the public heard from Nate Ruess is nearly an eternity. With albums being leaked, devoured and subsequently discarded prior to their release date, an artist who leaves the spotlight for a year and a half – with another year and a half before that since his last release – is committing career suicide.
In contrast, Mr. Ruess’ new vehicle, the punctuation and capitalization challenged fun., is a logical extension for the artist. He isn’t capitalizing on the peculiar penchant for no-fi or putting out a genre-bending mindfuck here. He sticks to the formula he started working on with The Format, and it equals exactly what it did before.
Comparisons to The Format are inevitable, so allow me to get my initial thought out of the way up front – fun.’s new album Aim and Ignite doesn’t stray far from the dark-tinged pop of Dog Problems. It’s a little more driving, a little noisier, but ultimately packs a similar punch.
That’s not a bad thing, per se. Hell, plenty of bands have made very successful careers out of releasing what amounts to the same album every other year. And if you’re missing what The Format brought to the table, you won’t be disappointed. But if you were looking for something different – something to help explain the breakup, you will be. There’s nothing on the album that couldn’t have been accomplished – at least musically – with Nate’s last band.
Again, that’s not a bad thing. Quite often people have differences, but I can’t imagine that they were creative in this case. There are some excellent tracks on Aim and Ignite as well – see “Light a Roman Candle With Me” for the best example – but ultimately the whole effort isn’t as rewarding as fans of The Format will have hoped.
If I were a star-awarding reviewer, I’d give Aim and Ignite three of them. And that’s not a bad thing either.