By Chad Swiatecki
Editor’s note: This article was originally published October 5, 2013
How odd is it that a band like Fun. that constructs songs from seemingly ony the biggest, strongest and most obvious building blocks of the pop-rock canon is something of a sonic outlier in modern music? While dance music celebs like Skrillex and Flux Pavillion travel further down those genres’ future-thought wormholes and roots/folk heavies like Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers have practically become yesteryear fetishists trading in "Little House On The Prairie"-chic, there stands Fun., gathering and utilizing the best bits of pretty much any era.
That doesn’t mean Fun.’s songs are timeless – canny and unapologetic use of AutoTune will forever anchor its material to the second decade of modern civilization’s third millennium – but one gets the sense that principal members Nate Ruess (vocals), multi-instrumentalist Andrew Dost and guitarist Jack Antonoff have made the conscientious and ambitious decision to take the most proven ingredients from pop’s history books and really go for it.
That move has paid off. In the last eight months the band has conquered the charts, scored two Grammys, recorded an episode of Austin City Limits a few weeks ago and on Friday played to the first massive crowd of the similarly named festival’s first weekend.
To understand why, one need only look at the bones of set-closer "Some Nights," which belongs in any discussion of the best-constructed and executed pop songs of the last decade or so. I mean, everything there just works; from the AutoTuned and multi-tracked opening verse, which totally apes Queen right down to Ruess’ Mercury-in-retrograde vocal soar, the liberal use of hoary "whoa-ohh!" vocal fills, to the perfectly places quiet slow down sections that let Ruess emphasize the confessional tone of the song’s waking-up-with-regrets message.
On Friday that song came after a cover of the Rolling Stones’ "You Can’t Always Get What You Want" that transplanted the original’s country-blues economy with Fun.’s parade march pomp. Doing so accomplished two things. First, it created an savvy lyrical pairing, with the two songs forming a mini-suite that reminded listeners "Sometimes things just absolutely don’t work out how we hoped." Second, it cast the band’s songcraft through a familiar prism to show even more clearly how this band operates, taking the pieces that work best and reconstituting them to make a crowd of several thousand go pretty much bonkers.