The “Fun.” might be over, but the aftermath comes in the form of former Fun. lead singer Nate Ruess’s first solo album, Grand Romantic, which features his distinct — bordering on theatrical — vocals and his new supporting group, the Romantics.
The musical influences from previous bands Fun. and the Format are evident in Grand Romantic. For example, “AhHa” incorporates faint but detectable traces from Fun.’s “Some Nights,” and the words, “It’s for the best we keep our distance” can be heard. Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions to assume that the lyric alludes to the band’s hiatus, but regardless, “AhHa” is a memorable homage to the Fun. days as well as a toast to new musical beginnings.
“Nothing Without Love” and “Great Big Storm” make good use of choir vocals, and comparing Ruess to Queen’s Freddie Mercury remains as valid as ever. “Take It Back” strays from indie-pop and delves into a ’50s doo-wop as Ruess croons for his beloved to “Just take it back / Take it back / What we had.” “You Light My Fire” is a more forgiving (and upbeat) tune that keeps to the doo-wop style. Ruess’s duet with Beck, “What This World Is Coming To,” explores regret, nostalgia, and our significance on a cosmic level; listeners may be reminded of Ruess’s existential lyricism from Fun.’s “Carry On.”
Grand Romantic is a thoughtful, musical manifestation of a love story Ruess has been carrying with him throughout the conception and writing process of his solo project. While taking a professional musical leap can often be precarious business, Ruess’s debut seems to indicate that the leap will be well worth it.