Cracking out both a lower-case letter and a full stop for their band name, fun. feel from the off like they’re pointing the finger at themselves and going “Look at us! We’re different!” But for all that their album might offer a whiff of fast and easy radio-friendly pleasure, Some Nights wears itself out fast. The chanted refrains which seem to crop up on almost every song with unerring regularity begin as something faintly cute and endearing – with that innate quirkiness of stereotypical Bohemian adolescence – but quickly descend into a kind of aesthetic that feels like it’d be better suited to a kids’ TV show.
On the title track the band sound like they’re trying to squeeze themselves into the boots of Queen – with cringe-inducing results. Carry On redeems things a little, touting some rather nice accordion melodies – and if you can afford fun. anything, it’s that when they knuckle down to it, they can sure bang the hooks out. But presented here, in album format, they more often than not clog together like a sticky, sugary dollop that lodges all too uncomfortably in the throat.
You can’t help but feel the band have already been condemned to linger in that one-hit wonder purgatory. With We Are Young’s stratospheric ascension to chart conquering behemoth via its use on Glee, the track has simultaneously blessed and damned the band forever. Sure, it’s gifted the group with a song that will go down in the annals of history as one of the year’s defining tracks, but it consigns the rest of the LP to looking like pale attempts to recreate its triumph. We Are Young is the kind of song most bands would give their right arm to write – and rightly so, pop choruses don’t come much better than Nate Ruess’s rallying cry of “We’ll set the world on fire!” But is there anything deeper beyond the brightly coloured snazziness of the band’s showboating? Does the song attempt to speak out to the kind of youths that were quite literally indulging in a little pyromania of their own during last year’s summer riots? No. fun.’s demeanour is far too fey for that. Instead, the lasting impression is of resolutely arty types ruminating on manifestos for life, laying them rather too neatly and eloquently before the masses, only to never act on them.
The baroque eclecticism of All Alone, the rushed pop-punk workout that is It Gets Better – what fun. are trying to create here is writ large in the track titles – a kind of by-the-book guide to a teenager’s broiling emotions, all cut-up and hurting over elders that just don’t understand them. But it’s all been done before, and far more intelligently by the likes of MGMT, leaving fun. trailing in the wake of a wave that’s already spent itself.
By the time Some Nights is half-way through, the distinctly un-“fun.” formula is already repeating itself, All Alright feels vaguely like it could be a single but washes past as a wearily deflated procession of a song. Smatterings of marching band pomp and ceremonial brass on One Foot feel like artificial attempts to inflate a flagging affair, a carnival-esque party in a studio gone wrong. And the less said about the seven minutes of masturbatory vocoder experimentation on Stars the better. Like a balloon slowly venting air, fun.’s sophomore effort – for all its attempts to hold its shape – is largely hollow. Replete with tacky production and recycled ideas, its few merits are stretched to near breaking point.