52 Albums: Week 8
Some Nights, the sophomore album by fun. lives up to the band’s name but does not hold up to repeated listens.
Last week I discussed how the latest albums by Lambchop and Shearwater flirt with ambitious disaster and how there is a fine line between brilliance and crap. At first blush, Some Nights seems to successfully walk that line but it’s a terrifying high-wire act. “This should not work,” you think to yourself. Some Nights is an over-produced mess of an album, rife with stolen melodies, trite lyrics and an awful abundance of auto-tune. And yet, the sheer energy of the proceedings are enough to overcome all of these flaws, at least initially.
The guilty pleasure wears thin quickly however. The more one listens to Some Nights, the more the flaws start to grate. Once the novelty wears off you realize that none of it works after all.
I had to think a little bit about which song to include as part of this review. We Are Young is the song that sucked me into this mess and it’s got an excellent video featuring Janelle Monae. One Foot is one of the better songs on the album but, several of the flaws I’ve discussed are evident, cornball lyrics most particularly. In the end, however, I have to go with the title track, a song that illustrates all that is great and all that is terrible about the album:
Here are the swelling vocals and anthemic harmonies that are so reminiscent of Queen. Here’s a fantastic beat with snarling guitars sneaking in just long enough to make us think that maybe we’re listening to rock. (We’re not.) But here too are spoken lyrics so embarrassingly corny they make you wince. And here is auto-tune run a muck.
I’m a big defender of Pop Music. My iPod is chock full of artists like Janelle Monae, Taylor Swift, P!nk and Rhiana. And if Dr Luke wrote it, I’m there. A great pop song taps into something universal and captures an energy that is hard to resist. At first blush, Some Nights is a great work of pop art. But great pop music stands the test of time and, in this regard, Some Nights is all glitz with no substance. I give the album three and a half stars — It’s a guilty pleasure that quickly wears thin.