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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Fountains of Wayne
Welcome Interstate Managers
S-Curve Records

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
I can't tell if it's all the coffee I drink or the syrupy sugar that is dripping from Welcome Interstate Managers that is making me so jittery, but I am actually having physical troubles in typing this review. If there is one thing that Fountains of Wayne does well, it's crafting big-guitar pop songs with clever lyrics and an underlying sweetness that is so corny that you can't honestly take it seriously.

It seems, however, that not taking anything too seriously would sum up the band's catalog. This band is made up of four guys from suburban New Jersey who write smartly suburban pop songs and have no pretensions about who they are and what they do. But please, don't confuse the lack of seriousness for a lack of talent.

The song writing duo of Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood have earned their daily bread by writing some of the catchiest pop rock in recent memory. Some of their songs sound like they could be the soundtrack and the plot of a John Hughes movie. "Fire Island" is a plea for Mom and Dad to leave the kids at home while they vacation abroad so that all varieties of mischief can ensue. The song "Stacy's Mom" is a very well painted portrait of a teenage landscaper who has the hots for a friend's mother and a chorus of "Stacy's Mom has got it goin' on" (insert uncomfortable chuckle here).

Much of Fountain of Wayne's appeal lies in their ability to make stories out of the mundane lives of ordinary (albeit fictional) slobs. "Bright Future in Sales" is the story of one such drunken, unqualified slob trying to get his shit together while "Hackensack" is the forlorn and pleading lament of a broken-hearted loser. Still working for his Dad in New Jersey, he sees his favorite hometown girl "talkin' to Christopher Walken/on the TV screen" leaving him feeling left behind and obsolete. "Hey Julie" is a standout track that is a sweet acoustic number about a guy who doesn't know how he could survive the work week without his girlfriend to come home to. Awwwwww- no, really - it's rather endearing! Quit rolling your eyes at me!

Just like always, Fountains of Wayne has no shortage of musicianship or material. They take a stab at drunken classically-styled country on "Hung up On You", that almost be okay if it weren't for the dorky white guy vocals and the moronic chorus: "I've been hung up on you/ever since you hung up on me". Of course, I know it's tongue-in-cheek, but it still is just novelty filler (Well, in comparison to the novel/filler-y rest of the album). Unfortunately, an excess of material weighs down the album. Welcome Interstate Managers could stand without all 16 of its tracks- for example, "Halley's Waitress" is an AM Gold, Barry White sounding groove that probably should have died in demo.

The only other drawback to this album is that it is exactly what it is: a Fountains of Wayne album. You can only reinvent the wheel a certain number of times before the idea is ruined in repetition. Unlike its equally sweet cousin the Hostess Apple Pie, Fountains of Wayne's music possesses an extremely short shelf life. Though it may be very satisfying snack, it lacks preservatives, ultimately leaves you slightly nauseous and yearning for something a little more substantial. Admittedly, I'm a fan of sweet and silly pop songs, but like most sweets you have to ingest them sparingly. If you are a fan of big, catchy pop (it's ok, admit it, you'll feel better) then this album belongs in your collection. A word of caution: After you listen to it a few times it will likely wind up in the dusty recesses of your CD tower, only to be pulled out on a flight of fancy... or to satiate an aching sweet tooth.

Reviewed by John Peters
A former contributing writer for LAS, John married former music editor Sarah Iddings. That\'s the last we heard from him.

See other reviews by John Peters



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