fun., Some Nights

Barry Walters

By Barry Walters

on 04.11.12 in Reviews

Some Nights

Layering seemingly incompatible genres with reckless, radio-friendly glee

fun. is one of those bands that came seemingly out of nowhere to ascend to the top of the charts. Usually, those groups piggyback the steez of some other currently radio-ruling act. fun. doesn’t. On this, its breakout second album, the New York trio draws from hip-hop, power-pop, emo, ’70s art-rock, singer-songwriter balladry, contemporary R&B and Broadway; a combo you’ll likely only find right here. Singer Nate Ruess — who also writes the ardent lyrics and highly sing-able melodies — has a Freddie Mercury thing going on vocally, and Some Nights opens with a flurry of Queen-y harmonies and symphonic gallantry. But after that, all bets are off. The runaway success of “We Are Young,” the first substantial rock song in ages to not only top the pop charts but also put a justified critic’s darling, avant-R&B diva Janelle Monáe, on the radio where she belongs, is particularly amazing considering that Ruess’s first band, the Format, was dropped by the same major that now distributes both fun. and Monáe. That Arizona band teamed with Redd Kross/OFF! bassist Steven McDonald for its second album, 2006′s Dog Problems, and Ruess and McDonald continued honing their smarty-pants eclecticism on fun.’s 2009 debut Aim and Ignite, with the help of its multi-instrumentalists Jack Antonoff and Andrew Dost, formerly of Steel Train and Anathallo. Here the trio trade McDonald for Jeff Bhasker, a hip-hop/R&B guy who produced monster hits for Kanye West, Jay-Z and Beyoncé. Together, they layer seemingly incompatible genres with reckless but radio-friendly glee, as if a music nerd’s iPod somehow got into the hands of a Bruno Mars.