Fountains of Wayne
is Brian Young
and Jody Porter.
'Stacy's Mom' rockers don't quite 'got it going on'
Published: May 1st, 2007
Author: Sam Gavin
Source: ASU Web Devil
Let's get this out of the way - there's nothing as novel, memorable or genius as "Stacy's Mom" on "Traffic and Weather," the fourth and newest album from power-pop masters Fountains of Wayne.
It's a heartbreaker when the best song your band's written is the only one it's known for, and it's doubly disappointing when there's still so much good material under the radar. Fountains of Wayne has consistently honed its pop chops from its 1996 debut through 2003's flawless "Welcome Interstate Managers."
But what made "Stacy's Mom" and the rest of "Welcome Interstate Managers" was the earnest passion the band poured into its songs. The problem is that bassist/songwriter Adam Schlesinger doesn't write songs about himself - the closest he gets on "Traffic and Weather" is a first-person narrative about a man with a Mafia debt on the hilarious "Strapped for Cash" - so any kind of introspection has to be replaced with real empathy for his characters. When that feeling isn't there, the songs collapse.
Lead vocalist Chris Collingwood, whose versatility makes the band tick, sounds alternately bored and irritated on the record's worst songs. During Fountains of Wayne's early-afternoon Coachella performance this weekend, Collingwood seemed like he'd rather be anywhere else, and while it's unfair to speculate as to the cause of that attitude, it certainly shows up on "Traffic and Weather" as well.
That's not to say there aren't some real gems here. "Someone To Love" is a virulently catchy disco-rock single about two lonely hearts in the big city and features a sweet female vocal backup to match. "'92 Subaru" is undoubtedly the best song ever written about that particular car, and "Michael and Heather at the Baggage Claim" is heartfelt and cute.
In general, though, this album lacks the spirit and fun of past Fountains of Wayne releases, which is a huge disappointment considering the band's past work.