It seems we may have spoken too soon about male solo artists. After singing the praises of Brandon Flowers and Adam Lambert this year, we became a little less wary of approaching fun. frontman Nate Ruess‘s solo album, Grand Romantic. (But then we remembered he was from fun. so that didn’t last long.)
The opening of the album is nothing short of terrifying. As the intro segues into AhHa, where Ruess feels it’s appropriate to shout at us like The Riddler on crack, and the entire song feels like being a toddler on a ghost train and realising there’s still another four minutes of this nightmare left to go.
For some reason, Ruess feels like shouting his way through this record is an appealing quality. It definitely isn’t, even with the production credits from Jeff Bhasker (last seen on that old Uptown Special). There’s even something a bit sledgehammer on a slower number like Take It Back, like Ruess feels like he’s doing the song a favour by not screeching through it all. There are echoes of Brandon Flowers in there, but Ruess isn’t blessed with the charisma and control of the Killers man (a fact put into sharper focus by a track called Brightside).
Respite? Minimal, and mainly in the form of a Beck feature on What The World Is Coming To, as two artists adequately temper one another for a serviceable country-pop jam. But it’s the best of a relentlessly awful bunch, mixing unmemorable choruses with production crashes and claps that wish they could fill a stadium (like on Great Big Storm) but are probably better served filling a shoebox. Grand Romantic very much feels like its namesake gesture then: attention-seeking, needlessly grandstanding, and ultimately a hollow self-serving exercise for the shallow.
Grand Romantic by Nate Ruess can be ordered here. But God help you if you do.