fun. 

8 p.m. Wednesday September 23. The Firebird, 2706 Olive Street.

Aim and Ignite, the long-awaited debut album from fun. — the new project of ex-Format frontman Nate Ruess — puts the charismatic vocalist in good company. More specifically, he's one of the few ex-emo darlings (along with Jack's Mannequin's Andrew McMahon and Straylight Run's John Nolan) who has found a new artistic life by leaving behind emo's limitations. To say that fun.'s music transcends Ruess' work with the Format is a major understatement. Ignite kicks off with "Be Calm," a song that packs multiple emotional twists and turns into a concise four minutes. Ruess sings like his life depends on it and pushes the limits of his range by gradually ratcheting up the vocal intensity. String, percussion and keyboard arrangements by former Jellyfish keyboardist Roger Joseph Manning Jr. are all over Ignite, whether it's the dense vocal and orchestra harmonies or syncopated percussion flourishes. "Benson Hedges" owes a lot to the soul-stirring whimsy of Spiritualized, while "All the Pretty Girls" channels the fabulous grandeur and harmonic density of Queen (and the sugar-pop perfection of Jellyfish).

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