fun. – Aim and Ignite

Review Score: 8.9

Pop lovers rejoice! Nate Ruess is back in business with his new, adequately named band, “fun”. If you already know who Nate Ruess is I’m guessing you’ve been waiting for this album with great anticipation and don’t need this review to tell you to listen to it, but just to get it out of the way I will say this, it is everything you could have expected and then some more! For those of you who don’t know Nate Ruess, please continue.

Back in 2006 his former band, The Format, released what many believe to be one of the best pop albums of recent memory. Dog Problems reminded people of what pop should truly be like: easy and accessible yet experimental, simple and catchy yet complexly layered and arranged, unpretentious and easy going yet artistically deep and emotional. For Nate Ruess to successfully follow up such a great album Aim and Ignite would have to be something very special.

It is with great joy that I report that it is. Aim and Ignite is a surprisingly logical progression, maintaining all the strengths of Dog Problems and at the same time expanding on the them and building new intricate layers of musical depth and beauty. The arrangements in Dog Problems were very well regarded and considered as one of the album’s main focus points, incredibly Aim and Ignite somehow benefits of even better arrangements. The scope of instruments and styles covered are so impressive they almost make Dog Problems pale in comparison. No doubt arranger Roger Joseph Manning Jr. deserves a standing ovation for his work on this album.

Nate Ruess is as good as ever, delivering every single line just right with his unmistakable style. He’s also in much better shape emotionally, while Dog Problems focused entirely on his failed relationship and maintained a general self pity tone (a playful one maybe, but self pity nonetheless), Aim and Ignite finds him happier than ever and centerpiece At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be) expresses this happiness perfectly.

Elsewhere we have the amazing opener Be Calm, that does an almost perfect job of introducing the listener to the album’s world, the beautiful Beach Boys harmonies of Benson Hedges or the heart warming recollections of The Gambler. The incredible diversity makes Aim and Ignite a more complete, mature album and indeed even better than Dog Problems.

When Nate Ruess announced that The Format were breaking up he left a void that until now was left unfilled. Aim and Ignite fills that void and ends with promises of even greater things to come.


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July 2009
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