Friday, August 7, 2009
Album Review: Fun-Aim And Ignite
I can't really explain why, but I never really got into The Format. Oh, I tried. I really did. All of my friends fawned over them endlessly. I seemed to be the only person on the outside looking in at The Format's club. But something about them just didn't sit right with me. I don't know if it was the singer's voice, the straightforward sound, or something else. But while everyone else was heaping praises upon praises down on their heads, I mostly ignored them.
The Format having announced the dreaded "indefinite hiatus" early 2008, it's only logical that we'd see music coming out of their various band members over time, and Aim And Ignite is the result of lead singer Nate Ruess's thoughts over the past year and a half.
The album starts out with an unusually quirky number, Be Calm, which combines chamber pop, electronica, and indie rock. It seems like a strange combination, and it feels a little awkward upon first listen, but this song grew on me after a while. One thing that's apparent after hearing this song is that Nate isn't afraid to hit the high notes. Second track, Benson Hedges, is pretty straight forward indie pop, but has a gospel sounding vocal intro to mix it up a bit.
Sixth track Light A Roman Candle With Me could have been written by Ben Folds; even the Beatlesque vocal harmony that breaks in at the one minute mark would have sounded right at home on Whatever And Ever Amen. This song breaks up the pattern developed in the first five songs of having a distinct intro that then leads into the body of the song. My favorite song on the album has to be The Gambler, which is a pretty straight forward piano ballad complete with strings. Again, the Ben Folds comparison is appropriate, but it's definitely not a bad thing. Closing track Take Your Time (Coming Home) again employes the intro followed by the actual song. The strange thing about it is that the intro really reminds me of the beginning of The Circle Of Life from The Lion King. Once the actual song gets going it's pretty good, but that kinda threw me for a loop. Maybe that's not necessarily a bad thing, but I'm not sure that a comparison to an Elton John/Tim Rice tune penned for a Disney movie is something the band would be flattered by.
Altogether, I can possibly see this album being a grower. The issue it might face is that I don't know if there were enough defining features upon first listen that will make me want to eventually come back to it. Only time will tell, but I can't help but think that maybe the reason I couldn't get all that into The Format back in the day is the same reason I'm not too enthralled with this album: I just don't think they're that good, and I don't think this album is either.