Fountains of Wayne, Welcome Interstate Managers

Karen Schoemer

By Karen Schoemer

on 05.18.11 in Reviews

Welcome Interstate Managers

Fountains of Wayne
These songwriting chops used to take a decade in the Brill Building to hone

It's charming the way Fountains of Wayne write songs about white-collar schlubs in dead-end suburbs, crunching numbers in anonymity while that cute girl from first period winds up in Hollywood. But on the Jersey boys' third and most successful album, empathy lurks behind the sarcasm. Dig past the post-Cars new-wave/grunge snark of the first few tracks — particularly the MILF anthem "Stacy's Mom," which hit the Top 40 charts thanks to an MTV video featuring a near-naked supermodel — and Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood start flaunting the kind of songwriting chops that used to require a decade in the Brill Building to hone. "All Kinds of Time" is the most sensitive ballad ever written about a football player spacing out during the crucial moment of the big pass. In "Valley Winter Song," bleak gray days become a metaphor for a pretty girl's vanishing youth. "Halley's Waitress" is such an unapologetic Burt Bacharach homage — moody piano chords, soul guitar licks, plucked violin strings, falsetto vocals — that it's as if Schlesinger and Collingwood are begging anyone to get the reference. "Stuck in a meeting on Monday night/ Trying to get the numbers to come out right," Collingwood sings in "Little Red Light." Substitute the word "notes" for numbers, and you get the idea of the baggy-eyed, pasty-skinned, behind-the-scenes perfectionism that fuels F.O.W.'s bouncy pop fun.