Listening to Fountains of Wayne, it is always blatantly obvious that songwriters Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood are true blue Beatles fans. The classic pop song textures are immediately familiar to afficionados of 60's pop. However, by bringing lyrical references to the contemporary world into their music, Fountains of Wayne create music that introduces a particular warmth to a present that can often seem cold and isolating.
Mundane Life Elevated in Song
Fountains of Wayne are best known to most casual pop music fans as the band that created "Stacy's Mom," the humorous hit single about a guys' crush on his friend's mom. Like most of their music, it was clever enough to provide a humorous twist making it both fun and memorable. The group's songwriters Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood are masters at bringing the idiosyncrasies, ironies, and insecurities of everyday life into the classic pop song structure. On Traffic and Weather, suddenly, waiting in line at the DMV, driving a '92 Subaru, stopping at a store on I-95, and picking up luggage at the airport baggage claim become interesting, fun, and even enlightening.
Warmth and Familiarity
The love for the music of the Beatles evident on Traffic and Weather frequently approaches the point where it could all sink into obsessiveness. "Yolanda Hayes" at the DMV seems a close cousin to "Lovely Rita," the meter maid. Seth Shapiro and Beth Mackenzie of "Someone to Love" seem like the contemporary versions of "all the lonely people" in the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby." Yet, at any points where the songs may fall into parody of the classics, the light touch of melody and reflective humor pull back from the precipice leaving you wanting to hear more.
Adam Schlesinger's production on the album lends the sound of the album a tremendous warmth that brings to mind classic records pressed on vinyl. Guitars, drums, trumpets, and banjo all sound vibrantly real without any sense of digital sterility.
Top Tracks on Traffic and Weather
- Someone to Love
- Yolanda Hayes
- Michael and Heather at the Baggage Claim
- New Routine
An Album to Love
If you are already a committed Fountains of Wayne, much of the material here will match what you've come to expect from the band. However, if you are new to the group's sound, Traffic and Weather will likely be a revelation bringing back pleasing memories of classic 60's and 70's pop songs. Filled with moments almost anyone in the contemporary US can relate to, it may not be long before this collection becomes an album to treasure and even love.