fun. | Aim and Ignite (Nettwerk)

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fun.jpgBut this is a crafty act, they easily make nursery rhyme female backing vocals and multilayered pomp-rock vocals do their bidding.




Who wouldn't want to have fun? And we're not merely talking about the possibility of fun; this isn't a question, it's a statement, espoused via the non-optional full stop in the band's name. Even the album's cover is the cheerleading equivalent of a "you will get wet" sign at Six Flags; bolstered by demonstrative, off-primary colors, it's a cross between the "oh really? Okay, then..." look of Queen's Hot Space and the non sequitur of a They Might Be Giants sleeve.

fun. is on a mission and they're committed to it. "I Wanna Be the One" carries a stately, French horn and harpsichord Jellyfish vibe, deliciously snaking a violin in and out of the vocal melody. "All the Pretty Girls" laces more of the infectious violin into a snap-in-your-step Traveling Wilburys jangle; supported by fuzz bass, big, glossy ELO chorus vocals, and an out of nowhere Brian May-esque guitar solo, it's all wrapped up into one of the best indie pop songs it'd be possible to hear this year. (You can practically hear the half-unbuttoned wide collar shirts and white boy afros.) "At Least I'm Not As Sad (As I Used to Be)" is the type of song that could easily be cloying beyond belief. But this is a crafty act, they easily make nursery rhyme female backing vocals and multilayered pomp-rock vocals do their bidding. There's a slight New Pornographers vibe that meshes well with the rest of the proceedings, without ever succumbing to that group's unflinchingly multi-tracked blast furnace. Even lesser tracks like "Walking the Dog" get by on their charms, all Ben Folds Five fuzz bass, "na na na"s, analogue synth lines, roller coaster melodies, and happy, chiming guitars.

fun. are all about building four minute mini-symphonies, in the best tradition of late period Beatles or Jellyfish. "Light a Roman Candle with Me" is a fine exemplar; jaunty, and honestly romantic, exuding the pure pop goodness of Paul McCartney at his least cheesy crossed with the rollicking, restrained charm of Queen's more pop oriented singles. Aim and Ignite is beguiling, freewheeling, romantic, and not once afraid to shift on a dime but also never complicated for complication's sake. You know, I am having a good time... B+ | Mike Rengel

RIYL: Jellyfish; side two of Abbey Road; Jeff Lynne, if he was a bit less of a weirdo gadfly;  multifaceted, free-spirited pop

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