Top positive review
11 people found this helpful
5 stars despite the flaws
on 8 August 2003
I am a massive FoW fan. I have loved this band since the opening bars of Radiation Vibe. I thought they had split up, and had resigned myself to only ever owning 2 FoW records. Then I read on the internet that this was out, and an hour later I owned it. They could have recorded an album full of Celine Dion covers and I would still have been ecstatic. It is slightly weird, therefore, that I haven’t fallen entirely in love with this record.
Why, I can’t really say. All the essential FoW elements are there, from the headrush chorus of Stacey’s Mom, with it’s crystalline harmonies and keyboard riff which makes a bid to be the catchiest FoW song ever (yep, even including Red Dragon Tattoo) to the melancholy sweetness of Winter Valley Song, which sounds like a throwback to the first album.
So, the problems. Well, the album is overlong. Compare it to the first record, where every song had a place and a purpose, and there are at least 4 fillers. Hung up on You, Peace and Love, Little Red Light and Yours and Mine should all have been reserved for B-sides. Secondly, at times the songwriting seems like FoW-by-numbers. Fire Island should be the equal of Prom Theme, but falls short, just lacking the X-factor. Too many songs fall into the ‘mid-tempo trap’ of the weaker material on Utopia Parkway, like Fine Day for a Parade.
Enough bad stuff – it doesn’t come naturally to criticise my favourite band ever. The first 3 tracks are classic FoW, bubbling guitars and spot-on harmonies. Bright Future in Sales and Stacey’s Mom should both reach number 1, if there is any justice in the world. There isn’t, so they won’t even break into a top 40 dominated by R&B. All Kinds of Time and Halley’s Waitress stand up to anything they have released previously, both beautiful, delicate songs, that other artists would kill to have written.
If any other band had released this record, it would be an amazing achievement. But FoW have become victims of their own success. Being the best songwriters in their field means that if they write anything less than perfection it is seen as a fall in standards.
So, in conclusion. If you are a fan, BUY IT, there is still more than enough great music on it to warrant buying it 10 times over. Just don’t expect it to unseat Fountains of Wayne as the best album of all-time. You will still love it, as it still has plenty of those little moments of genius that FoW fans know all about. If you are not a fan (yet), BUY IT, just buy the first 2 albums as well, and listen to them in the order they were recorded.