When The Format announced they were splitting up last year after their epically brilliant, but tragically underrated concept record Dog Problems, it seemed like a horrible waste of talent. Dog Problems, produced by Red Krossâ€™ Steven McDonald with musical arrangements by Jellyfishâ€™s Roger Manning, Jr., was pop rock perfection from start to finish; one of the best power pop records put out in 2007. Taking inspiration from XTC and ELO, the record was an unflinching love note to every pop band that came before it disguised as a break up album.
The band fun, though dreadfully named, picks up where The Format left off. Comprised of Format co-founder Nate Reuss, Andrew Dost of Anathallo and Jack Antonoff of Steel Train, fun is a step away from Dog Problems artistically, with a few more musical risks taken, but just as enjoyable. With similar influences and McDonald and Manning back on board for Aim and Ignite, the record is a stellar collection of power pop rock songs. There is not a weak track in the bunch. Like The Formatâ€™s last album, Aim and Ignite was self-released with help from Nettwerk, which is why it likely sounds unlike anything else being churned out right now. Uninhibitedly poppy with jangly guitars and sing-along choruses, the songs on the album manage to be both fun and deeply personal. Youâ€™d be hard pressed to find a sweeter song than â€œThe Gambler,â€ Reuss ode to his parents and â€œAt Least Iâ€™m Not As Sad As I Used to Beâ€ is lyrically some of his best writing. With Aim and Ignite, Reuss and company have rightfully earned the mantle of intelligent power pop rockers once worn by groups like Jellyfish, XTC and The Kinks.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Top tracks: Almost too many to name
fun â€“ Aim and Ignite/CD /10 tracks /2009/Nettwerk/www.myspace.com/fun