The New fun. Fan's Guide to the Format

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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 proceeded to set the world on fire.

fun., America's least search-engine-optimizable band--and, somehow, the first rock band since Nickelback to debut on top of the Hot 100--has the biggest rock hit in three or four years, and an enormous group of fans buying its album one song at a time over the internet. Its singer and songwriter, Nate Ruess, also has a back catalogue of two beloved indie rock albums from his days with a band called the Format.

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: A brief guide to the Format, for people who don't realize how much they love the Format yet.

"We Are Young"--It's tough to find a song from anybody that's quite as anthemic or of the moment as fun.'s current hit, which has been 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 plenty of anthemic, too--"Let's Make This Moment A Crime," from Interventions and Lullabies, 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. "Some Nights"--If you're looking for a general feeling of uncertainty and anxiety about the future you can pretty much put on any fun. or the Format song and get what you're looking for.

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:

For all that, though, the Format wasn't fun.--what you get, in exchange for the loopy danceability and the autotune, is a bunch of really great straight-ahead rock songs. The good news is that, having just gotten into Some Nights, my hypothetical fun. fan friend, you can have both.

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