It’s been a few years now that Nate Ruess has become a household name in the music world, as both the lead singer of Fun., and the man behind a number of successful smashes. But today (June 16th) marks Ruess’ foray into the world as a solo artist, as he releases his debut album, Grand Romantic.
Grand Romantic, as depicted by its album artwork, is a record that is colourful and dynamic, but stamped with melancholy throughout its duration. The record presents an old school idea of drama, with booming instrumental and spoken word interludes that evoke the stylings of a musical. The theatrics that are present on Grand Romantic are met with Ruess’ sharp songwriting skills, and he is able to create a sound that has been missing in music for quite a while now.
The album starts with a soft intro track, only to be followed by the vivacious AHHA, a schizophrenic confessional that plays out like a musical roller coaster. Ruess keeps you guessing for the first half of the album, with consistent tempo changes matching the emotional drive that is embedded in the blueprint of the record. The peak of the ride hits with Great Big Storm, an exhilarating track that is as anthemic as it is self-reflective. Storm is the perfect marriage of Ruess’ grandeur and songwriting finesse, channeling his persona expertly into a 4-minute masterpiece. The album takes a turn after Great Big Storm, as it is followed up by three consecutive piano ballads. While this move showcases the softer side of Grand Romantic, it stifles the momentum that had been building from track-to-track. Of the three, It Only Gets Much Worse is the standout ballad, harnessing Ruess’ emotion into a powerful vocal performance. The album ends with Brightside, a song that is simultaneously wistful and hopeful, acting as the perfect conclusion to sum up the record.
In an odd way, Grand Romantic is reminiscent of Katy Perry’s blockbuster album Teenage Dream. The concept of Grand Romantic as a record is methodical, full-fledged, and simply put, grand. But throughout the 12-track cut, the songs on the record don’t exemplify its message, but rather they reflect it through their individuality. While a storyline can be drawn from the songs front to back, it is rather the emotional entity that Ruess draws from the individual songs that come full circle, to carry the message and inspiration of the album’s conception. It is in this sense that Grand Romantic as an album stands separate from the title track itself- similar to the individuality of both of Perry’s Teenage Dreams.
Grand Romantic is very much a package deal, one that comes with a large stamp of identity. The album is chock full of personality, and while some moments may fall on the somber side, it is good introduction to who Ruess truly is. Grand Romantic is expressive and energetic, and when channeled through the craft of a true songwriter, the result is an album that is thoughtful and well spoken- the best way a musician could ever say hello.
Standout Tracks: You Light My Fire, It Only Gets Much Worse
Potential Radio Singles: Great Big Storm