After topping the charts with his indie pop group Fun, singer/songwriter Nate Ruess is branching out as a solo artist: his debut album Grand Romantic has been highly anticipated. Producer Jeff Bhasker (Kanye West, Beyonce) has jumped on board, as well as musician/producer Emile Haynie (Lana Del Ray) who provided drum tracks for most of the songs on the album. With big names like these, Grand Romantic is theoretically shaping up, but what about sonically? We are about to see a side of Nate Ruess that we’ve never been introduced to before, and it’s really exciting.
After a brief intro, AhHa kicks off the album with a maniacal laughing loop followed by countless words and a lot going on instrumentally, though it’s not very memorable. Nothing Without Love began as a shower melody before Ruess voice recorded his session: it’s an emotional number where Ruess needs a sign that everything is ok with his partner. Instrumentally Take It Back is a little bland with no adventure, besides its neat little guitar solo, but lyrically and vocally the track shines. There’s a decent pop beat backing up You Light My Fire which is an overall fun track; singer/songwriter/multi instrumentalist Beck features on What This World Is Coming To, which proves to be a strong collaboration with its acoustic guitar led arrangement and complimenting vocal lines.
Great Big Storm is borderline Fun: it has this catchy hook and addictive arrangement that fans have come to expect from the band. It’s definitely an album highlight. Moment wasn’t the best moment on the album: whilst the lyrics were deep the overall sound just didn’t keep you strapped in for the ride. It Only Gets Much Worse is more like it, contrary to its title, it’s the kind of emotionally powered ballad we’ve been waiting for from Nate. Title track Grand Romantic isn’t bad, but it’s not great either, after a little while the vocals become less appealing and strained and the end of the track repeats the introduction of the album. Harsh Light picks up the slack, and final track Brightside ends the album on a lighter yet deep and meaningful note.
Nate Ruess sure has a keen ear and an eager pen when it comes to writing music: Grand Romantic is a decent solo debut for the singer. There were moments that made the album become a bit stagnant, but they were effortlessly made up for by the energy and aura of other tracks that were fun and enjoyable. Fans should know not to expect a Fun spin off, but Ruess’ personality is still there and Grand Romantic should be enjoyable to most; it will be interesting to see what’s in store for the singer/songwriter in the future.