Fountains of Wayne

Fountains of Wayne

Fountains of Wayne

Sky Full of Holes

Yep Roc Records

Fountains of Wayne is one of those groups that stumbled upon stardom. They started off back in the ’90s with their insanely catchy self-titled debut (and the lead single “Radiation Vibe”) and follow-up album Utopia Parkway. Their wry sense of humor gave them a rabid fan base and moderate radio airplay, but it wasn’t until “Stacy’s Mom” blew up in 2003 that they enjoyed the mainstream success that had escaped them. That album, Welcome Interstate Managers is one of my all-time favorites, and, although incredibly unfair, is the album on which I base everything else they release. So listening to their latest, Sky Full of Holes, I can’t help but be just slightly disappointed… until I put it in some context.

The opening song, “The Summer Place” is classic Fountains of Wayne. Impossibly catchy? Check. Lyrics about a 40-year-old mom taking mushrooms from a surfer because she’s having a mid-life crisis? Check. And that’s just the opening song.

The issue is that after making the masterpiece of pop, Welcome Interstate Managers, everything else seems just ok. It’s not that this album is bad; it’s a really good radio-ready pop record. It just seems like they know what they are good at, figured out the formula, and just follow that. There isn’t the excitement here that there has been with previous releases. The tracks are good (“Action Hero” and “Someone’s Gonna Break Your Heart” are gems), but there is an overall sense that the band slightly pigeon-holed themselves with this album unintentionally.

Maybe I’m the problem with this album. I have built up the band to be one of the greatest pop acts of all time. Maybe I should revise that to one of the better bands of my generation who made one of the greatest pop albums of all-time. While this album is good, it will not be the first one I play when I listen to Fountains of Wayne.

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