Format announced they were splitting up last year after their epically
brilliant, but tragically underrated concept record Dog Problems, it seemed like a horrible waste of talent.
Dog Problems, produced by Red Kross’ Steven
McDonald with musical arrangements by Jellyfish’s Roger Manning, Jr., was pop
rock perfection from start to finish; one of the best power pop records put out
in 2007. Taking inspiration from XTC and ELO, the record was an unflinching
love note to every pop band that came before it disguised as a break up album.
fun, though dreadfully named, picks up where The Format left off. Comprised of
Format co-founder Nate Reuss, Andrew Dost of Anathallo and Jack Antonoff of Steel Train, fun is a step away from Dog Problems artistically, with a few
more musical risks taken, but just as enjoyable. With similar influences and
McDonald and Manning back on board for Aim
and Ignite, the record is a stellar collection of power pop rock songs.
There is not a weak track in the bunch.
Like The Format’s last album, Aim and Ignite was self-released with help from Nettwerk, which is
why it likely sounds unlike anything else being churned out right now.
Uninhibitedly poppy with jangly guitars and sing-along choruses, the songs on
the album manage to be both fun and deeply personal. You’d be hard pressed to
find a sweeter song than “The Gambler,” Reuss ode to his parents and “At Least
I’m Not As Sad As I Used to Be” is lyrically some of his best writing. With Aim and Ignite, Reuss and company have
rightfully earned the mantle of intelligent power pop rockers once worn by
groups like Jellyfish, XTC and The Kinks.
Standout Tracks: “The
Gambler,” “At Least I’m Not As Sad As I Used to Be” JOHN MOORE