Grand Romantic is the first solo album from Nate Ruess – who is known to most as being the frontman of indy-pop band fun.,
This debut solo LP is a real mixed bag of tracks underlined by the vocal talents of Ruess. The artist has an incredible and quite unique voice that is large and high-ranging, yet at times surprisingly delicate. Ruess lays his emotions out for all to hear through his choice of lyrics, and this very personal touch is certainly to be applauded.
Songs like It Only Gets Much Worse reflect on growing up and how life only gets harder, shedding light on the idea that when you are a child you are ‘oblivious to consequence’ and this fades as you move into adulthood. The title track Grand Romantic is a strong love ballad, where Ruess openly declares his feelings of passion. The theme of death makes an appearance at a number of points throughout the album, giving something to balance against the many declarations of love. In Great Big Storm, Ruess sings about being ‘asleep above the stars’; a rather beautiful way of describing death, as well as touching on thoughts surrounding having ageing parents and the many issues surrounding that. Throughout the LP you’re constantly reminded what a personal release this actually is.
However, throughout these quite intimate moments you also need to consider its charm to an album buying public – and maybe that’s where things start to crumble. The album is at times a frenzied mix of instrumentation and there are moments that less studio work would have been the smarter option. There is so much going on here, and while this is enjoyable on some levels, and creates an epic sound, it somewhat detracts from the voice and the power of the lyrics. You want to hear the message but the opposite effect occurs at times, and having so much happening around the vocals is a clear distraction.
While vocally this is an impressive outing, the album does lack some bite. There are times when you need something to really grab on to; you want there to be a track that you remember the album for .. it doesn’t come. It’s also clearly overproduced, leaving the end product sounding less like a solo album and more like a fun. record. The phrase ‘less is more’ was created for ‘Grand Romantic’
Nate Ruess and his solo career are a work in progress. If you own ‘Some Nights’ then i really wouldn’t bother with this.
‘Grand Romantic’ is out now. The full track-listing for the album is as follows…