Fountains of Wayne - Traffic and Weather

Anyone named Stacy who had the misfortune of 'Stacy's mom has got it going on' being chanted at them has the right to automatically dislike Fountains of Wayne. What's your excuse? Seriously, listen to this, the pop stalwarts' fourth album proper, and you really shouldn't have any reason to search out a new fave guilty pleasure pop-rock band.

But there I go, labelling the band's quirky contemporary pop as a 'guilty pleasure'. Treading the same path Ben Folds and OK Go have previously ventured down, the Fountains are handy at fusing all styles of pop music from 80's New Wave to 60's girl-band motown. Oh, and they might have been a tad influenced by those Beatles lads; if you don't believe me, then go listen to Yolanda Hayes. Speaking of the Fab Four, this album even has its own Eleanor Rigby in the shape of Someone to Love, the infectious synth-powered opener that sees one of its lonely characters put on Coldplay and settle down with a glass of wine. This barbed humour is on display in various songs, consistently amusing lyrics concerning themselves with subjects like news co-anchors finding love and loan sharks. The half-assed Planet of Weed is admittedly lame but this is a mere blip, the circular narrative of New Routine featuring clever wordplay and a final payoff featuring eggroll; suffice to say, I won't spoil it here. Another thing the songs have in common is their sense of musicality; you can imagine the likes of '92 Subaru and This Better Be Good featuring in an updated 'noughties' version of Grease, and one that is a pretty big improvement on the travesty that is High School Musical.

So there ya go, that's my so-called 'informed' opinion. Think McFly if they were all growed up, intelligent and, well, not annoying. After that description, I think it's pretty obvious this won't be for everyone - the unashamedly sugary-sweet sentiments and fizzy-pop colourings might not go down too well with those music fans who are only interested in 'cool'. Fountains of Wayne's lack of coolness is exactly what makes them cool, though, and Traffic and Weather is an undoubted success on its own terms. Pop-rock album of the year? It may well be.

Overall

7

out of 10

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