A few weeks ago, Fun. released their sophomore album, Some Nights. Propelled by the success of the album’s catchy first single “We Are Young”, Fun. are blowing up. The song is prominently featured in Chevy commercials while the music video has made its way into rotation on VH1. However, the attention is deserved. Some Nights is an excellent record that lyrically and musically fits next to its predecessor, Aim And Ignite, but also incorporates new influences that make it more appealing to a wider audience.
The album's musical focal point is lead-singer Nate Ruess’s golden tenor and honestly emo lyrics and story telling. On a few songs, the band toys with auto-tune effects on the vocals. It works sometimes with tracks like the up-tempo “It Gets Better”, where it is used a double of the lead, but in the track “Stars” it gets kind of annoying. Ruess has one of the most beautiful voices in current popular music, so the auto-tune effect is unnecessary. Other new tricks include hip-hop influenced beats which depart from the more straight-forward drumming of Aim And Ignite. In interviews, the band has sited Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark And Twisted Fantasy as influence in the way the album was produced, thus adding further context to the change up in percussion. However, the percussion on certain tracks like the title track, "Some Nights", is reminiscent of Graceland-era Paul Simon and Vampire Weekend’s Contra. This is mostly in the way the underlying beat sounds like more traditional African drumming instead of straight up hip-hop. Regardless, the band makes it work.
One of the great things about Fun. is that their music is so eclectic. Some Nights is filled with very catchy pop songs and hooks created by mashing up many styles and influences. The harmonies on “Some Nights (Intro)” have a very Queen nature to them; whereas the next track opens with harmonies structured similarly to Kansas's "Carry On My Wayward Son", before the song is driven by some of the traditional African drumming I described earlier. The ballad, “Why Am I The One”, busts into a chorus reminiscent of 1970s Elton John. The biggest stand out on the album is “One Foot”. It has a great hip-hop groove accented by a horn section and the verse could have been a lost Paul Simon melody reborn in 2012.
Some Nights is an enjoyable listen and one of the strongest releases of 2012. Fun. have created an album that is accessible to their increasingly growing audience. At the same time, Some Nights is a rich album with a lot to take in. Essential tracks are: “One Foot”, “We Are Young” and “Why Am I The One”.