Nate Ruess – Grand Romantic

Nate Ruess - Grand RomanticWhen fun. posted online in early 2014 that they were going on hiatus, the instant conclusion was we’d have a solo album from lead singer Nate Ruess in no time. After all, he’d already had hits with Pink and Eminem so it was naturally the next step. But band member Jack Antonoff‘s side project the Bleachers came first when they released Strange Desire last summer.

Nearly a year later comes Grand Romantic, an album closer to fun.’s theatrical indie pop than Strange Desire, but still what would be expected from the flamboyant and vocally energetic Ruess. If anything, his vocals have more freedom here than ever before and Nate lets it happen.

His best Freddie Mercury comes forward on AhHa, with verses that resemble Queen‘s We Will Rock You, before transitioning into another interpolation of fun.‘s song Some Nights. AhHa comes with many different parts that are pieced together only by sharing the same track, and despite how brash the laugh-part is, the contrasting bits make for an adventurous recording.

The album’s highest point comes with Moment, where the melody perfectly accompanies the lyrics describing that moment you take to stop and acknowledge the end of a relationship, as it builds up to a climax before gently laying it back down again.

Nate’s voice really is a work of wonder. He hits high notes with such ease – Take It Back is a great example – and with such a wide range, he would be awesome on Broadway or, at the very least, on a Broadway-inspired album. But Grand Romantic does his ability little justice, largely due to the album lacking other strengths.

Where Some Nights excelled at taking relatable moments, putting them into song and making them your own, Grand Romantic feels less personal to the listener. Nate sings from personal experiences but he doesn’t give full credence to the bits that one could latch onto.

If this were the next fun. record, it would be underwhelming. As a solo Nate album however, it isn’t because it’s almost exactly within the realm of what we’d expect. Parts are emo, parts are corny, but Nate’s authenticity toward what he’s singing wins him points. He’s not overly adventurous but he is still doing his own thing and owning it.
Three stars

Tracklisting
1. Grand Romantic [Intro]
2. AhHa
3. Nothing Without Love
4. Take It Back
5. You Light My Fire
6. What This World Is Coming To [featuring Beck]
7. Great Big Storm
8. Moment
9. It Only Gets Much Worse
10. Grand Romantic
11. Harsh Light
12. Brightside

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