Fun. – Aim and Ignite (2009)

No other band today other than Fun. fits the title as the modern-day Queen. Their quirky pop style of music is charming and infectious. Why it took so long for the media to recognize them is baffling. Fun. is indeed an enjoyable band. The catchiness of their music is irresistible, especially from their debut album Aim and Ignite.

The production, which can only be described as ‘bubbly’, is consistent throughout the course of the album. Nate Ruess’s clean, non-overbearing vocals blend perfectly with the music. The atmosphere is light and pleasing, which means that it’s ideal for both focused listening and background music without being distracting. The lyrics themselves are often adorable, but there are some select strange bits, such as “Light a roman candle with me/ Just a roman candle, you can wear your sandals/ And I’ll pour you just one cup of tea.” While there are a few other nonsensical lyrics such as this one, they hardly detract from the overall listening experience and it’s one of the band’s noticeable characteristics.

It is quite obvious that the band is largely influenced by Queen and other 60s bands such as the Beach Boys. The record opens with the standout track “Be Calm”, a song perfect as the introduction for the album. Skittish violins, flutes, and bells give way to triumphant brass and electric guitar, with Nate’s vocals going from soft and hurried to bold and inviting. The intention of the band is to have the listener be eager to hear more after the opening track, and this is just the case. “All the Pretty Girls” is a strings-laced, pop delight where Nate proclaims his troubles with a girl. Reggae-flecked “At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used to Be)” is optimistic to say the least, with a steady drumline and prominent, bright-sounding guitar. By far the catchiest track on the album is ‘Walking the Dog’, where its odd consistent clapping pattern is one of its most prominent characteristics of the song. There’s no doubt you’ll have the chorus stuck in your head for a while (“Na-na-nanana-na-na/I’ll never let you go-o!”).

Overall, this is what a great pop record should sound like. If your inner music snob turns its nose up at any mention of the word ‘pop’, don’t fret. There’s something for everyone in this album. The album maintains its bright style, but it experiments as well. Its clever use of orchestral instruments paired with modern-day ones add to the band’s appeal. It tends to stray away from the formulaic structure of most pop music and instead takes the listener on its own strange musical path. Sound fun? Indeed, it is.


Lil B – I’m Gay (I’m Happy) [2011]

Lil B the Based God has become something of an internet phenomenon this past year. When his hilariously bad lyrics and lo-fi beats on his popular songs such as ‘Wonton Soup’ were heard, people were questioning humanity. Is this guy for real? Do people actually LIKE this stuff? Lil B was no doubt the most prominent troll in the music industry. Of course, the Based God knew what he was doing. He knew he had made atrocious music. Whether it was for the element of surprise on this album or just for jokes, we’ll never know.

On this work, gone are the “Bitch suck my dick” rhymes and wack beats, which are now replaced by Lil B turning to ‘serious’ rap and lush production. Many fans have called this the ‘true side’ of Based God. His inspirational themes and storytelling keep his listeners’ attention. Songs such as ‘Gon Be Okay’ and ‘I Seen That Light’ are filled with positive messages, while others like ‘Unchain Me’ tell his listeners his troubles. Lil B’s flow is often monotone throughout the album, without much changing up in delivery. He is no lyrical genius, but he has a profound way of getting his message across. There is the occasional great punchline or metaphor, but nothing more.

The production is somewhat gritty but high-quality as well, from the Clams Casino-produced beats to a simple looped sample of One Summer’s Day from the movie Spirited Away. The samples vary from different genres, such as “Iris” by the alt-rock band The Goo Goo Dolls on “I Hate Myself” to the shoegaze band Slowdive’s “Catch the Breeze” looped on “Open Thunder Eternal Slumber”.

Overall, Lil B tries to create a solid, cohesive album, but some parts fall flat. Sometimes it sounds like he is mumbling over a beat that’s too loud or pausing too long to let the beat sink in. He carries positive messages throughout the album, but doesn’t know how to convey them in a more lyrical way. Lil B seems ambitious on this project, but there is plenty of room for improvement.