There has been a good deal of great Summer music released over the last few months, but as we begin the transition into Fall we've finally been bestowed with one of the best Summertime gifts from 2009, fun.'s Aim and Ignite. For those Format faithful, the legion of fans upset by the band's decision to call it quits a couple years ago, this new project from Nate Ruess has been looked to with great anticipation, I'm sure. For many others, it's likely that fun. (both the period and lack if capitalization are intended) may be a bit off your radar. Either way, if you haven't yet taken the time to hear this album in its entirety, I recommend doing so immediately. Singer/songwriter Ruess and new bandmates Andrew Dost (of Anathallo) and Jack Antonoff (of Steel Train) continue the grandiose, orchestral pop presentation of the last Format album (2006's Dog Problems) but with even more flair and success this time around, offering a record that is exquisitely crafted, consistently surprising, and - of course - very fun indeed.
Ruess continues his penchant for openly and intelligently discussing his hopeless romanticism and agonizing heartbreaks throughout Aim and Ignite, but the music frequently belies his pain, remaining upbeat and stuffed to the point of bursting with soaring string and horn arrangements (compliments of returning collaborator and former Jellyfish member Roger Joseph Manning Jr). First single 'At Least I'm Not as Sad (As I Used to Be)" was downloaded a phenomenal amount of times from the band's MySpace several months ago and perfectly showcases what makes the album so enjoyable. Ruess's wit is sharp and his melodies even sharper, switching between sing-song rhymes and grand, joyous choruses while the pounding piano and an active horn section place emphasis when necessary and retreat for moments of occasional quiet before another storm. Other highlights include the dramatic opener, "Be Calm," the danceable "All the Pretty Girls" and the afro-pop-meets-electronica tune "Walking the Dog," but with all killer and no filler, you really can't go wrong with any of the ten tracks on Aim and Ignite.
fun. has re-discovered the blueprint for the creation of a fantastic pop album, one as engaging and exciting as almost anything released this year. Although I'm sure the reception by fans of Aim and Ignite has been excellent, I've seen precious little about this album in more critical circles, which is truly a shame. If there's any justice in this world, more people will be taking notice soon - make sure you're one of them. Oh, and as a bonus, Prettymuchamazing.com has a couple songs to download.