Traffic and Weather

Traffic and Weather

by Fountains of Wayne
     
 

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The time has come to face facts: Fountains of Wayne may be the most songcraft-literate rock band on the planet. On Traffic and Weather, the follow-up to their acclaimed Welcome Interstate Managers, song connoisseurs Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood spike their clever power-pop cocktails with references

Overview

The time has come to face facts: Fountains of Wayne may be the most songcraft-literate rock band on the planet. On Traffic and Weather, the follow-up to their acclaimed Welcome Interstate Managers, song connoisseurs Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood spike their clever power-pop cocktails with references to rock's canon: reconstructed Doobie Brothers riffs (on "Someone to Love"), lifted Dylan piano intros (on an otherwise Paul Simon-reminiscent "Fire in the Canyon"), and Beatlesque touches everywhere. Thankfully, though, Fountains also boast a surfeit of original melody and couplets. The best song here, the deliciously funny and dangerous "Strapped for Cash," has sinister underpinnings that rival the best work of Steely Dan. As on so many all-Fountains songs, the setting and the setup are charming -- over keyboard stabs and soul-charged horn samples, a financially challenged loser begins his tale of woe: "Well it was Saturday night / I was sittin' in the kitchen / checking out the women on Spanish television." Eventually, the audacious song even pilfers Billy Joel's "heart attack-ack-ack-ack" phrasing and you don't even mind. The album is ripe with clever lines and fresh takes on old subjects. "Yolanda Hayes" recasts a Lovely Rita-like gal behind the counter at the DMV; "92 Subaru" is a high-octane car song and a catchy deconstruction of consumer culture; and the driving closer, "New Routine," follows intersecting characters as they move from Mineola, Long Island, to Liechtenstein to Bowling Green, Ohio, and back. Just like the come-on that comprises its title, Traffic and Weather keeps you tuned in. The forecast? Sunny, intelligent listening.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Fountains of Wayne finally managed to score that big hit single their fans always knew they had in them when "Stacy's Mom" became a fluke hit a few months after the release of their third album, 2003's Welcome Interstate Mangers. Anybody worried that success had spoiled the power pop quartet shouldn't find their long-awaited fourth album, Traffic and Weather -- its title song a nifty ploy to get drive-time radio plugs, but also fitting right into the Jersey roadside themes of the titles -- a disappointment, nor should it offer much in way of surprises. Perhaps the slight traces of a disco-rock beat on the opening track/lead single, "Someone to Love," shows some evidence of copping to modern trends, but Fountains of Wayne still remain devotees of classic pop -- usually guitar-driven power pop, but they'll spike that with some Bacharach horns or country-rock if the mood strikes them. If the sound is unabashedly, even defiantly classicist, that's balanced by Adam Schlesinger's obsession with chronicling the weird incidental byroads of modern America in his lyrics. He packs odd, telling details into each of his songs, whether it's how the disaffected, lonely photo retoucher in "Someone to Love" spends her Thursdays watching King of Queens or how the jealous narrator in "This Better Be Good" notices the light blue Dockers on the guy who is holding the hand of his girlfriend. Even if they're often used in the service of joke setups or punch lines, such details give the songs weight and help Fountains of Wayne seem contemporary when their music is grounded in the '60s and '70s and could have been released anytime in the last 20 years; the dance beats underpinning the title song sound like new wave, while the synths and phased vocals on the quite wonderful on-the-run-from-loan-sharks tale "Strapped for Cash" brings to mind early-'80s AOR (a fact underscored by the "heart attack-ack-ack-ack" reference to Billy Joel's "Movin' Out"). Such lyrical and musical flourishes keep Traffic and Weather from sounding too similar to previous FOW platters, but there is something missing here: a truly knockout single, along the lines of "Radiation Vibe," "Stacey's Mom," or even "Maureen" from their B-sides comp, Out of State Plates (or for that matter, "Pop Goes My Heart," the Schlesinger-written Wham! homage for Music and Lyrics that was on the charts at the time of the release of Traffic and Weather). It's sturdy, well-written power pop, but it falls prey to some of the faults of craftsmanlike pop -- mainly, it's possible to hear the craft behind the pop instead of just getting sucked into the sugar rush of the melodies. Even so, Traffic and Weather is hardly a bad record, and should satisfy anyone who has loved Fountains of Wayne before, even if it doesn't quite excite them.

Product Details

Release Date:
04/03/2007
Label:
Virgin Records Us
UPC:
0094637442029
catalogNumber:
74420

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Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Fountains of Wayne   Primary Artist
James Iha   Guitar
Scott Wendholt   Trumpet
Brian Young   Percussion,Drums
Ronnie Buttacavoli   Trumpet
Adam Schlesinger   Bass,Guitar,Keyboards,Vocals
Mike Viola   Background Vocals
Melissa Auf der Maur   Background Vocals
Chris Collingwood   Banjo,Guitar,Vocals
Jody Porter   Guitar,Vocals
Scott Harrell   Trumpet

Technical Credits

John Holbrook   Engineer
Adam Schlesinger   Producer,Audio Production
Chris Collingwood   Composer
Cliff Burnstein   Management
Geoff Sanoff   Engineer
Ken Weinstein   Publicity
Shauna Haider   Artwork
Peter Mensch   Management

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