There is plenty to admire in the lyrical turns of the tracks here, but the blandness...
Helen Groom 2007-05-11
There’s a fundamental problem with this new album from Fountains Of Wayne. The fun is in listening to the lyrics and appreciating the jokes and observations within them. But the problem is that the closer you listen, the blander the accompanying music seems.
Perhaps that is a bit harsh. Fountains Of Wayne pay tribute to a variety of styles through out the album, country twangs on "Fire in the Canyon", and Beach Boys-style harmonies on "This Better Be Good", but it really feels like there is nothing musically new here to get your teeth into.
But ignoring the conservative nature of the music, this fourth studio album from the does have a few delights up its sleeve.
Opener "Someone To Love" features Hole and Smashing Pumpkins bassist, Melissa Auf Der Mer, and along with lyrics depicting a love story with an unhappy ending, combines electro beats with a chorus that sticks in your head. And if you’ve ever thought a car can make you more attractive, then second track "’92 Subaru" is one you’ll appreciate.
Another highlight is "Strapped For Cash", with lyrics sounding like a cleverer version of Hard-Fi, and canny use of distort underpinned by a Mexican-influenced brass section. It’s not as weird as it sounds, honest.
You do have to admire the pictures painted by writers Adam Schlesinger (bass) and Chris Collingwood (vocals) and the delight they take in the minutiae of everyday life. On "I-95" they manage to evoke the tedium of long drives by describing the horror of motorway service stations, and "Michael And Heather At The Baggage Claim" effortlessly depicts the exhaustion at the end of a trip.
Ultimately, nothing here jumps out at you as immediately as the Fountains' best known song "Stacy’s Mom" from previous album Welcome Interstate Managers. There is plenty to admire in the lyrical turns of the tracks here, but the blandness of the music makes it an album you’re likely to abandon after a few listens.