Shock, 2009

For the sake of the very real possibility of losing my mind trying to keep track of sentence breaks and capitalization, from this point on the band known as “fun.” will be referred to as Fun without any special grammatical considerations.  Because, seriously, it reads the same. And unless it was Nate Ruess’s idea of a joke, and the “f” and “u” in Fun were meant to be a hidden message to music reviewers everywhere, I’ll just leave the creative band name undertakings to the poor pencil pushers who do this for a living.

Instead of mincing words about the name, let’s mince about the music. Those who take on the very agreeable task of listening to Fun should leave all labels behind, for starters. Even after four complete rotations of the album, I was at a loss to describe the sort of tunes contained within it’s colorful halls. Let’s say Queen meets Panic at the Disco meets Nightmare of You, but even that description is selling it pretty short.

Now, no matter how enjoyable the music’s sound is throughout the album, it’s still a trek getting through it all; the unusual tempos and layered vocals can become somewhat distracting despite the neatly packaged melodies. And nothing is more daunting than the first cut, “Be Calm”. The song unravels with accordion and strings as Ruess kicks off the album with the gusto of a ringleader at a circus. This is the sort of burlesque merriment you should expect from the remaining nine tracks, just at a much less pervasive, and even sometimes subtle, pace.

But the album does reveal itself after multiple listens, and that’s when the real cognizance can begin. The strength of the songs come from the sincerity of Ruess’s singing and the strong melodies, not to mention there isn’t a track that Fun doesn’t punctuate with dazzling instrumentals. Whether it’s clamorous power pop (“All The Pretty Girls”) or piano-savvy love dollops (“The Gambler”), Fun never loses its affability or, to finally make the titular comparison, it’s fun.

What rose from the ashes of the disbanding of The Format, Ruess’s former group, has turned into Fun and a pleasantly surprising initial effort. Since the band has recorded songs that were already works in progress, the overall sound is cogent and pleasing. Even though this is hardly an artistic monolith (some of the songs are a bit shallow lyrically), and some listeners will be turned off to the stereotyped, guy-linered emo elements harbored in a lot of the music, there’s no denying it’s a lively record and worth your attention.