Fountains of Wayne
is Brian Young
and Jody Porter.
Music Review: Fountains Of Wayne - Traffic And Weather
Published: Mar 27th, 2007
Author: Dave Lifton
In Robbie Fulks' 2005 song, "Fountains Of Wayne Hotline" an unsuccessful country songwriter looks to change his fortunes by calling up his favorite power popsters, who proceed to advise him on how to punch up his sound with their trademark hooks, such as the "radical dynamic shift" and "semi-ironic Beach Boys vocal pads." It was a brilliantly funny homage to the apparent ease with which they create their hits, with sonic and lyric references to a half-dozen Fountains Of Wayne tracks.
Few bands have been as consistent as Fountains Of Wayne. Since their debut in 1995, which featured the alternative radio hit, "Radiation Vibe," they have made four excellent albums chronicling the lives of angst-ridden East Coasters, and even their 2005 outtakes-and-B-sides double CD, Out-Of-State-Plates, had about 20 songs that could have easily gone on any of their albums.
Their last album proper, 2003's Welcome Interstate Managers, found the teenagers of their first two records getting older, but not necessarily wiser or more mature, as they moved into lousy middle management jobs, thought about old girlfriends and complained about waitresses. Welcome Interstate Managers, of course, also featured the gargantuan hit, "Stacy's Mom," an ode to The Cars and the world's hottest mother.
On their fourth album, Traffic And Weather, due April 3, Fountains Of Wayne don't deviate one iota from the formula that Fulks was celebrating. The album opener and lead single, "Someone To Love," finds them on familiar territory, describing the lonely lives of two New York twentysomethings, with a hellacious twist in the final verse.
There are plenty more of their trademark ironic character studies to be found, like "Yolanda Hayes" and "Revolving Dora." Those who enjoyed the lovable sad-sack losers of "Hackensack" and "Joe Rey" will find much to enjoy in "This Better Be Good" and "Strapped For Cash."
There's also plenty of heart to be found amid the humor. "Michael And Heather At The Baggage Claim," uses an airport as a backdrop for a couple to reaffirm their love, and anyone who has ever made a late-night interstate drive will realize the beauty of "I-95."
But the most striking song comes near the end. "New Routine" begins and ends in a diner, and in between travels around the world in a tale of people who keep trying to run away from who they are, with a melodic jump into the chorus worthy of Burt Bacharach.
Traffic And Weather is not likely to win Fountains Of Wayne many new fans. There's nothing as radio-perfect as "Stacy's Mom," or, at least, will probably have a video featuring a supermodel on a stripper's pole in her kitchen. But it will go down as another classic album for them and keep their many fans in pure pop bliss for years to come.