Waking Ideas Publishing - Culture & Critics Corner
Written By Danny Nicolas
fun. now needs no introduction. We Are Young, the Billboard Top Hit / Number One single from Some Nights, has pulled Nate Ruess into the stardom level I suspect he hoped to achieve with the album.
Early on, I predicted that I'd want a Ben Folds-esq 'Stems and Seeds' style release of Some Nights, and that still stands. The songs are amazing. If you see the band live, you'll fall in love with them. I really don't like how the studio versions of those songs are produced, way too loud, not mixed/mastered properly. It's no surprise because the record is produced by a guy who's only ever worked on hip-hop/R&B records (Jeff Bhasker). While this might be the recipe for the level of wealth and stardom Nate Ruess sought for so many years, I look forward to the next fun. album unconstrained by such aspirations.
Luke writes in his preview of the album, "it [could have been] better",
Perhaps more frustratingly, they sound great, many of them right up there with the best fun./Format output. It’s just so tragic when production kills an album.
I’ve compiled live performances of the first nine songs off Some Nights–remaining tracks “Stars” and “Out on the Town” do not appear to have been performed live yet. If you’re a glutton for disappointment, listen to these before you listen to the final product.
In his full review, Luke gives high praise to the songwriting but in the end it's the production that holds the album back.
Some Nights is among the finest collections of songs Nate Ruess has ever written. His classic lyricism, hooks, and thematic elements are all present. Guitarist and Steel Train vocalist Jack Antonoff, along with ex-Anathallo multi-instrumentalist Andrew Dost, fill out the trio, and they are two of the most fitting and capable musicians for a project such as this. fun. has brought all of the necessary ingredients to make a fantastic pop-rock record, one that could have easily been better than their debut, Aim and Ignite. Unfortunately, the final product is cheesy, overproduced, and at some points, unlistenable. What happened?
The blame for this album’s shortcomings lies with chosen producer Jeff Bhasker, who prior to working with fun., produced for the likes of Kanye West, Adam Lambert, Beyoncé, and Drake.
While listening to this album (which I have many times already), the question I can’t stop asking is “why?” With the talent contained among the three of them, why would this band allow these production choices? Dear God, are those synth horns? You have a proficient horn player in your band! Why? Why choose a producer who makes your record sound like no one in the band can play an instrument, when the exact opposite is true?
I’d be more forgiving if Bhasker had only been chosen to work on one or two tracks, maybe “Stars” and/or “We Are Young,” but an album filled with this much butchering is tragic.
here’s an old story Nate used to tell about his dislike for label executives and bureaucracy (which is also recounted in “Dear Boy.”) When he brought the first Dog Problems demos to The Format’s label at the time, an executive complained that they weren’t “high octane.” Shortly afterwards, they were dropped from then-label Atlantic.
If there ever was such a Nate Ruess record, it’s this one. Somewhere, that label executive is listening to Some Nights and shouting, “YES! YES! NATE, THIS IS HIGH OCTANE!”
Truly, the songwriting is not the problem here. At their core, the songs are great. The album starts strong with the anthemic, Queen-esque intro and title track, both of which are almost good enough–regardless of overproduction–to forgive the rest of the album. “We Are Young,” the band’s first real breakout single, is enjoyable, despite some terrible clichés (“set the world on fire,” “brighter than the sun”) and repetitive chorus. The ballad “Carry On” is catchy and solid; probably the closest thing to Aim and Ignite you’ll find on this album. All three band members shine on this track, which is sadly a rare occurrence on this album.
Published on Tuesday, May 1st, 2012 at 4:24 am | Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.