Nate Ruess's debut solo album Grand Romantic is here, and it needs no help announcing itself. This album includes the painfully catchy track "AhHa," in which Ruess half-sings, half-raps over his own snarling laughs, the bubbly "You Light My Fire," and the determined "Harsh Light." Ruess proves his knack for rapidly flickering from mood to mood and therefore avoids a static identity.
Ruess's vocals are immediately recognizable as the trademark sound of fun., the popular and currently inactive band [Ed. Note: Let's face it; I think we're all convinced fun. is never getting back together.], but despite this familiarity, each song on the album is host to lyricism so intimate it feels invasive. "AhHa," for example, tells of Ruess's suicidal moments, while in "Brightside" Ruess wistfully sings for an unattainable paradise; the rest of the album is equally as personal.
Grand Romantic has more than its fair share of high points, but it lacks a theme or grand sound to pull it all together. Some of the songs echo Broadway, while others echo rock or country. The variety in genre proves Ruess's range, but the contrast between the songs is jarring. Still, Ruess has found his niche in music with his theatrical yet dark music. Even when the album is at its hammiest, Ruess maintains his bittersweet tone through lyricism and pure emotional drive.
Grand Romantic may not be the most cohesive of albums, but it is formidable. Ruess is capable of holding his own in a musical endeavor, and while the albums strength is not entirely consistent, it touches upon the emotional intensity that it strives for.