A Brief Guide to The Format for Confirmed fun. Fans

Statistically speaking, you or some iTunes user you know has, ton-i-i-i-i-ight, confirmed that he and someone else are both young and then set the world on fire at least once in the last year. Last year fun., America's least search-engine-optimizable band, had the biggest rock hit in three or four years, and suddenly gained an enormous group of fans buying its album one song at a time over the internet.

Some of those new fans--even the ones in town--have never heard The Format, Nate Ruess and Sam Means' consistently delightful and nearly famous mid-aughts band.

For those new fun. fans, then, and for my own selfish desire to see one of my favorite bands get a second life as the Uncle Tupelo to fun.'s Wilco, last year I produced this brief guide to the Format, for people who don't realize how much they love the Format yet.

(N.B.: We also have A brief guide to accepting fun. for confirmed fans of The Format.)

"We Are Young" -- It's tough to find a song from anybody that's quite as anthemic or of the moment as fun.'s biggest hit, which was resilient enough to fight off challenges from a full cadre of booming, echoey '80s-throwback dance tracks atop the iTunes charts.

But The Format did some anthemic, too. "Let's Make This Moment A Crime," from offers all of the rapid-youthful-intimacy bombast and the loud chorus, with, for better or worse, less of the Janelle Monae. It also sounds less like it was recorded to a tape filled with carnival sounds than most Format songs, which makes for an easier transition from fun.

The Format's a very different band from fun., but Nate Ruess's distinct voice isn't the only thing they share; both bands mix anxious, wordy lyrics with big, accessible music, and both write deceptively weird songs. On first listen their songs feel like straightforward pop; it's when you go back afterward and try to diagram what you've just heard that you realize how many "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"-style changes it took them to get you there.

"Some Nights" -- Granted: If you're looking for a general feeling of uncertainty and anxiety about the future you can put on pretty much any song by either band and get there.

As for the title track's particulars, the weird beats and the airy synths are what most distinguishes fun. from the Format, aside from their use of punctuation and capital letters. "On Your Porch" has the same slow, shambling build-up, but your best bet is "Career Day," another portentous song about success and anxiety--available here in the interpretive-stock-photo medium peculiar to YouTube:

It's got a similar stuttering, march-y sound, even though it's marching to a much quieter conclusion. For all that, though, the Format wasn't fun.--what you get, in exchange for the loopy danceability, is a bunch of really great rock songs. The good news is that, having just gotten into Some Nights, my hypothetical fun. fan friend, you can have both.

... Actually, Anathallo was pretty good, too. But I'll let somebody else handle that one.

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Dan Moore