I love fun.!

Ok, all you who are broken-hearted because of the Format’s break-up, come to The Indie Handbook and we will give you rest.  We have all been waiting so patiently for fun.’s album, Aim and Ignite, trying to subdue our anxious ears with “At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be),” but now is the time to rejoice because the album is here! It is here for real tomorrow, and it is here now streaming on their myspace page!

We’ve talked about these guys before because Eric got to see them live which makes me so jealous  I could scream, so you probably already know that fun. is the collaboration of the Format’s Nate Ruess, Anathallo’s Andrew Dost, and Steel Train’s Jack Antonoff.  And ohh my gosh their album is streaming.  Am I over eager?  (no such thing).

I’ve heard mixed feelings about fun. from friends who saw them live and have streamed Aim and Ignite, and I have to agree most with a friend who said that their name truly fits them–they’re really just a lot of fun to listen to, and probably even more fun to see live.  To the assertion that they’re not catchy enough, I must disagree.  After listening to Aim and Ignite, I would say that fans of the Format’s Dog Problems will appreciate this album the most.  I’m sure fun. would rather not be constantly compared to the Format (sorry!) but I hear definite stylistic parallels between the melodramatic structure shifts and incredible orchestration in the two albums.

I have no idea if fun. claims Queen as an influence, and maybe I’m committing some kind of musical treason in saying this, but I hear elements in Aim and Ignite that are very reminiscent of Queen–strong lead singer, complex orchestration, a tendency towards the anthemic, raw emotion, and a general songwriting courage…there’s no shrinking from drama here, but somehow it isn’t kitschy or annoying–it’s awesome, actually.  Could fun. be the next Queen?  I don’t know.  I’m just sayin’.

So now let’s play a game called, listen to Aim and Ignite and tell us your favorite song on the album.  I can’t pick just one, but I really enjoy “Benson Hedges” (kind of an interesting gospel influence that you also hear  a bit in “Barlights”) and “I Wanna Be The One.”  And I still love “At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be),” even though it isn’t so new.

I Miss You, The Format

Tonight is a night of mourning, because I am reviewing The Format, who I love and have no more.  They are the biggest teases ever…giving us but two albums and then splitting.  I know when I’m unwanted!  These two albums, however, are two of the best, most personal albums I have ever owned.  So, I forgive them for the split.

Anyway, many of you may already know and love The Format, in which case you should probably honor them with me by listening to their albums on repeat and looking into fun., Nate Ruess’s brand new band, who actually toured with Manchester Orchestra and who Eric got to see in concert while I listened to top-40 radio in Hampton Roads.  However, many of you may not have heard The Format because you are too young or were too uncool in high school/college to listen to them.  It’s  okay.  I was uncool at one time as well.  Now is a time of celebration for you–and a time of spending money on some new albums.  Listen up, kids.

My second favorite of The Format’s albums is their first album, Interventions and Lullabies (Elektra, 2003).  In their first album, The Format begins showcasing what sets them apart from others–quite literally, the format of their songs.  As far as I can tell from their lyrics, the band members seem to be personally acquainted with restlessness and change–one reason why I connect so deeply with them, I guess–and these qualities play a significant role in their music-making.   Perhaps the most prominent examples of this are the bridge on “Let’s Make  This Moment A Crime,” the general structure of “Sore Thumb,” and the surprising last minute or so of “Career Pay,” which by the way, is my favorite track.  Just in case you were wondering.  Beyond the interesting FORMAT (haha it never gets old!) of their music, their lyrics = genius.  From “I’m Ready, I Am,” The Format hits what is important to me as an artist and listener: “I”m trying to find truth in words and rhymes and notes and all the things I wish I wrote”–isn’t that the point?  Their twentysomething/graduate feelings are familiar…”old classmates please drop all your pens/don’t write a word caus i won’t reply/i’m not bitter no it’s just i’ve passed that point in my life” or “as for joe oh i’ve seen him around/then there’s adam/he’s afraid to go out/i don’t blame him/i just wanted to go out to eat/then there’s mark goddamn i wish him the best/we were kids back then/as if we could progress/sometimes i, i just can’t sleep/thinking of the things we could have been.”  I know, it sounds kind of emo.  But let’s be honest with ourselves.  Well,  I feel like that a lot.  So that’s enough.

Moving on, Dog Problems (The Vanity Label, 2006) is my favorite of the two albums, because at this point, the Format has grown into musical  maturity.  The interesting changes in FORMAT!! are not only in the bridge or the last thirty seconds of a song, but they keep occurring…not too many key changes because that is annoying as hell, but tempo and style…it’s incredibly intriguing, and incredibly ADHD-friendly, which is always nice.  They have figured out how to use background vocals brilliantly (“I’m Actual” — great example) and have played with instrumentation.  The melodies are interesting, the writing is creative, and it’s singable.  So, that’s pretty fantastic.  Because I’m a self-aware lyric whore, “Oceans” (“why am i scared of people in a room?/why can’t they see a good time/are the people close to you?/why don’t i just give in/have a drink and shake some hands…”) and “If Work Permits” (“now standing in a room/it’s filled with older folks/they’re pleading ‘baby listen’/and i scream as loud as anyone/but when asked to make a point/i tend to whisper”) are my favorite tracks on the album.  They make me want to scream, I feel that way!!!!!!!!!! But I don’t, I just listen.  Anyway, despite these being my favorite, the title track is amazing and in my opinion, puts all of the great characteristics about this band into one song.  The lyrics, the swing to ballad style changes, the awesome instrumentation… it’s all here.  And check it, yo.  You can watch the video.

You can also listen to some of their songs on myspace, but really I’d just recommend buying the albums.  You can probably get them cheap on Amazon.  Is that cheap of me to mention?  I don’t care.  We’re poor, you probably are too.

I miss you, the Format…