fun. "Aim and Ignite"

Nate Ruess (The Format) has decided to push some musical buttons here, much like Bryan Scary and The Shedding Tears by layering dense instrumentation, gospel choirs, electronic pulses and the kitchen sink. That kitchen sink includes pop god Roger Manning Jr. and producer Steven McDonald (Redd Kross). Opening with “Be Calm” it’s deceptively sweet ballad opening ironically turns into loud theatrical melodic chaos. Along with with ex-Anatholla member Andrew Dost and Steel Train frontman Jack Antonoff, the band is relentlessly accurate in it’s name. But I would add a capital “F” for fantastic. “Benson Hedges” continues the multi-instrumental grandiose pop chorus, a mix of Queen’s vocal harmonies and Tally Hall’s quirky soundscape. “All The Pretty Girls” is a killer single, and steals Mika’s old thunder this year. It’s catchy as hell as they tell you “the eighties is old” and with that violin following the melody. The over the top approach works beautifully in spots, like “Light A Roman Candle” which Jellyfish fans will just flip for. After hearing “Walking The Dog” I am reminded of the goofiness that Sugar Ray used to get away with when people took them seriously. The melodies shift so many times, on a few songs (“At Least I’m Not As Sad”) the hooks can get lost in the shuffle. But Nate’s vocals are so strong here, it’s hard to find fault with many songs, although the faux gospel can overwhelm listeners on “Barlights” and the Billy Joel-esque “The Gambler” is a welcome respite. The quite moments here are also bit too infrequent, but you’ll get carried away by this musical circus too quickly to notice. Epic pop this lush should not be overlooked.

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