Why Some Nights was not very good
Fun. is one of my favorite bands. Well, Nate Reuss is definitely one of my favorite singers, and their first album Aim & Ignite was amazing. Nate was in The Format, who is definitely one of my favorite bands of all time. Impressed as I was with Aim & Ignite, I was surprised to see Nate writing such great songs without Sam Means, the other principal member of The Format. I felt a little guilty enjoying Aim & Ignite so much because it almost made Sam irrelevant. But like Aim & Ignite I did. Then the second Fun. album Some Nights rolled around, and I did not like it. After the release of the album I searched for a way to adequately express my thoughts of it because, after all, this is a very serious matter and it is very important what I think about it. Anyways, here is what my research and my analysis has led me to come up with:
Here are similarities between the Dog Problems and Aim & Ignite albums:
- Sam Means was involved in the songwriting process (Sam received songwriting credit for all A&I songs. He has stated online that all but two of the songs were written for The Format. Seeing as “Take Your Time Coming Home” is largely about the breakup of The Format, I think it is safe to say that was one of the two. I don’t know what the second one is.)
- They were both produced by Steven Shane McDonald
- Roger Manning Jr., keyboard player in The Jellyfish, was a studio musician on both albums. He also wrote all orchestral scores (“Dog Problems” and “Be Calm” have similarities in those arrangements, but do you see anything similar on the Some Nights album? I don’t)
In contrast, for the Some Nights album
- Sam Means was not involved in the songwriting process
- The producer was Jeff Bhasker, a hip hop producer whose resume includes tracks from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West and Man On The Moon by Kid Cudi
- Roger Manning Jr. was not involved
This merely explains the institutional changes that resulted in the actual flawsof Some Nights. I don’t know if I could describe them as accurately as I’d like to. Some brief thoughts:
- Loops (see “One Foot”) have replaced dynamic and varied chord progressions (see “She Doesn’t Get It” — there are many many different chord progressions in that song)
- One of the biggest improvements that Aim & Ignite made on the Dog Problems sound is interplay between vocals and guitar riffs (see the verses of “I Wanna Be The One”, the choruses of “Walking The Dog”). With loops, there is no such dynamic interplay between the vocals and the instruments.
- Nate takes long passages and, instead of singing a desperately paced string of brilliant lyrics (see the middle section of “Dog Problems” or the introductory climax of “Be Calm”, sings single words for a long time, varying the pitch over multiple measures (see the chorus of “We Are Young”). This is lazy.
- Nate uses auto-tune! This is the guy who hit that super high note in the bridge of “Be Calm” (MELLL-OH-DEEEE at 3:00). This guy is maybe my favorite singer in a decade and he wastes it on auto-tune. Sad!
I still think Nate is an amazing singer and songwriter and I wish him nothing but the best in the future. I would love to see him work with Sam Means again in the future (especially since I do like the solo material Sam has released) but I don’t know how likely that is. I’m not ready to blame the poor songwriting of Some Nights on Fun. just yet — maybe a lot of it came from Bhasker. If Fun. puts out another album with another producer and it flops, then I guess I’ll just have to say I like Aim & Ignite but I’m not that much of a fan of Fun.
A closing thought: Could this mean Dog Problems and Aim & Ignite are primarily products of McDonald and Manning? That is the closest Redd Kross and The Jellyfish would have come to fame…it is really too bad The Format broke up before Aim & Ignite.