Nate Ruess’s first solo album is a compilation of songs that focus solely on the subject of love, in one way or another. The album begins with the track ‘Grand Romantic (intro),’ which is short, sweet and a great start of what’s to come; an even better intro to the following song: ‘AhHa.’ ‘AhHa’ is the second single Nate released from the album and is, in some ways, a counterpart to the hit Fun. song, ‘Some Nights.’ ‘AhHa’ takes the following well known lyrics from ‘Some Nights’ and puts a spin on the song:
“Oh, it’s for the best you didn’t listen, It’s for the best we get our distance (oh oh woah oh), It’s for the best you didn’t listen, It’s for the best we get our distance”
Nate does this to show that this is his solo album and preemptively dispels any potential comparisons to his solo work and the band Fun.
Towards the end of ‘AhHa,’ Nate Ruess is reflecting on his past decisions in a note to his mother, telling her that he’s ready to let out the ‘Grand Romantic’ that’s been kept within himself. Again, this lyric is a breakaway from Fun. and foreshadows the following songs on the album.
“Mom, I think they’re trying to keep the grand romantic in me, Now that we got bottom lines, But mom, I think I’m ready to free this grand romantic in me”
The remaining 10 songs on the album follow the theme of a ‘Grand Romantic’ and tell a story from one song to the next. The third song on the album, ‘Nothing Without Love,’ is the beginning to a failing love story, but one that may be worth the fight. He refers to both himself and their relationship as a sinking ship in a storm; a metaphor that can been seen in other songs throughout the album.
“Three years at sea after the storm, On this sinking ship that love had put me on”
The fourth song on the album, ‘Take It Back,’ begins with yet another metaphor, comparing the love to two ships. This song tells the story of lovers drifting farther apart, and wanting to get back to where they were, but both are struggling with the task.
“Well we’re just two ships passing through the night”
‘You Light My Fire’ is the fifth song on the album and is a little more upbeat then the ones before it. This song is more about the reason a failing relationship is being held onto; even though the lovers may be drifting apart, their fear of being alone and the fighting might be the only thing holding them together.
The Sixth song on the album, ‘What This World Is Coming To’ (featuring Beck), continues along the storyline of a failing relationship and shows a bit of the selfishness of holding onto something that has been taking a big toll on both sides. On one end, we see the female counterpart bruised and beaten down, yet on the other side, the male is holding on because she has made him who he has become by being his inspiration and solace through some dark times.
“I watched as your wrist began to bruise, Threading ribbons, weaving patterns, Beautiful and blue”
“You know that I can’t stop thinkin’ ’bout you, You’re the source of everything I do, You brought faith to songs I sing, So I went and bought a diamond ring, I wanna spend each night here with you, Yeah you took everything I was, And you turned it into something I’ve become”
Following ‘What This World Is Coming To’ is the song, ‘Great Big Storm.’ Here we see yet another comparison to the sinking ship in the storm. The song suggests the realization that maybe it’s time to let go because the fight has become unbearable on both sides, yet, neither is ready to cut the cord.
“Because we’re holding our own in a great big storm, And though we’re cutting it close, We won’t let go”
‘Moment’ is the eight song on the album which brings the part of the story where the relationship ends. Its sad for both ends, especially for our male character. It shows a realization that some things that may have appeared to have been right, have been wrong all along. This is a sad part of the story and may even show a bit of vulnerability from our male side.
“Well, I’m fine, I just need a moment of your time, To get all my things and let go, Well, I’m fine, I just need a moment to say goodbye”
The next song on the album, ‘It Only Gets Much Worse,’ starts with another metaphor to the storm and shows the regret to ending the relationship, along with the potential outcomes of the future. This song is sad, slow and goes straight to the heart. It’s beautiful and tragic, making it one of the best songs on the album.
“And no, I didn’t mean to let you go, I didn’t mean to bruise but I lost control, What didn’t mean a thing destroyed us both”
The tenth song on the album is ‘Grand Romantic,’ and again, it is a slow, tragic yet beautiful song. In this song, we hear our grand romantic’s pain and struggle since ending their love.
“And I, I just wanted you so bad, I don’t know where I’m going, don’t know who to trust anymore”
‘Harsh Light’ is the next song on the album and shows our male having a bit of fun at a bar by becoming very inebriated. In a way, this could be a song about him finding happiness again by going out and having fun, yet, it could also be a song about putting his pain into the bottom of a bottle.
“My eyes are drained from the one that got away, So tonight I’m going out, tonight I’m gonna stay out, In walks eighty long boots, looking for a date, I would make the first move, but I’m too drunk to enunciate”
The twelfth song on the album is entitled ‘Brightside’ and is the last piece to this love story. We see our male character convincing himself that leaving was the right choice, yet at the same time, thinking that on ‘the Brightside,’ maybe things could have worked out. The song is a perfect end to a wonderful album, and leaves us wondering what will become of the two loves we’ve learned so much about.
“You know, I think it says a lot, That I could wake myself up from this dream, Grab the things that are most dear to me, And although I could have loved you better, I had to get the fuck out of the bed”
“Oh God, I wish that I was on the bright side, These friends of mine could spend the whole night dreaming, While you’re holding me tight under the moonlight, Just you and me, babe, we’ll spend our whole lives singing”
Overall, this album and it’s story is truly a work of art. It’s beautiful and tragic. It’ll bring you up and take you down. That’s what is so genius about it. Anyone can enjoy the songs Nate has created for us and anyone can feel the pain; maybe even the joy in each lyric. One can only hope that this is not a tragic love story that Nate Ruess himself has experienced, however, if this is true a true story, to the girl who broke his heart, we thank you.