Album: Aim and Ignite
The only self-released effort on this list, Aim and Ignite delivers what could be expected of an album by a band named fun. Riding the energy and excitement surrounding lead singer Nate Ruess's first recording venture since The Format's 2008 breakup, the album doesn't disappoint fans of his former band either. Ruess appears here with a newfound confidence and exhilaration. No, he wasn't overjoyed by the split with longtime co-conspirator Sam Means, but if there were any doubts beforehand, this release makes a clear statement that he's over any lingering hardship, and even those Dog Problems he lamented about so many times before.
Yes, as damaged as Ruess's quiet and unassuming voice appeared when singing for The Format, fun. is an entirely different animal. Tracks like "Benson Hedges" and "All the Pretty Girls" bleed exuberance and enthusiasm, sparked with optimism and a more mature outlook. Equally, the instrumentation remains creative and lively throughout, surprisingly even more so than Ruess's former band. And yet, there are also those moments of clarity and calm, when Ruess reflects on his feelings both good and bad more somberly, but with the same painstaking honesty we're used to by now. For those who want The Format back, I'm sad to say they're still gone, however this album may go along way in replacing the void.
Best Track: "All the Pretty Girls"
[Previously on Animal Noises: Best Albums of 2009: #10, Girls' Album]