Monday, April 09, 2007

REVIEW: Fountains of Wayne's 'Traffic and Weather'

I can't remember the last time I dashed to a record store the day an album came out in order to snatch it up immediately upon release. Actually, now that I think about it, I can. It would have been a few years ago when Fountains of Wayne – like me, natives of the great state of New Jersey – came out with their breakthrough album, WELCOME INTERSTATE MANAGERS featuring the surprise hit "Stacy's Mom", later used to hawk Dr. Pepper.

Now, after several years of keeping myself occupied with their earlier albums and OUT OF STATE PLATES, a hit-or-miss B-sides and rarities collection, the band is back with TRAFFIC AND WEATHER, their fourth album of smart, witty, and accessible guitar-driven pop-rock.

That said, I like the new record, but I find it – in employment terms – to be a "lateral move". While each of the last two albums improved upon the one before it either in songwriting or honing the band's sound, TAW sounds an awful lot like INTERSTATE MANAGERS-Lite to me.

Favorite tracks include the opening quartet featuring the single "Someone to Love," "'92 Subaru", "Yolanda Hayes" and the title track as well as "New Routine," found at the tail end of the disc. Each succeeds in painting a vivid picture few bands are capable of, but none grabbed me right off the bat like, well, almost all of the songs on any of their previous studio albums.

As for the rest of the album, it's taking me a long time to warm up to tracks like "Fire in the Canyon," "I-95" and "The Hotel Majestic." And I doubt I'll ever warm up to "Planet of Weed".

Don't get me wrong – TAW has been in heavy rotation in both my CD player and iTunes for the last week and I like it a little more with each listen. That, however, is a first for me when it comes to Fountains of Wayne. I've never had to warm up to one of their discs before, yet I'd still grade this as a well above average effort.

Buy 'Traffic and Weather' at

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