Loads of New York bands have written songs about their home towns. Few, however, have focused on the suburbs of the City That Never Sleeps: the tree-lined streets populated by commuters and shopping malls that make up much of New Jersey, Connecticut and Long Island. This is the world of disaffected youth, the "gee-whiz" America of Frank Capra films colliding with the suburban nightmare of Amityville
(which is, after all, a town on Long Island). Utopia Parkway
is, in effect, a concept album about the world that's just a short train journey from Manhattan yet an eternity away from big city life. Songwriting duo Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger--the creative forces behind the Fountains Of Wayne
--treat their subject with humour and dignity, singing about the lives and dreams of the suburbanites who populate their songs against a backdrop of soccer moms and high school proms. Moreover, the songs are flawless gems of guitar-driven pop perfection, like Teenage Fanclub
at their best, running the gamut from fine to fantastic: from the rocking single "Denise" to the vintage pop of "Laser Show" and "The Valley Of Malls" to the witticisms of "Red Dragon Tattoo" ("Now I look a little more like that guy from Korn"). Utopia Parkway
is a knowing portrait of a neglected aspect of American life and--most importantly--a perfect pop album. --Robert Burrow
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