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4.4 out of 5 stars27
4.4 out of 5 stars
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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.
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on 3 September 2003
To me, this is the best album of the year. In fact, it's probably my favourite album since "Utopia Parkway" came out in 1999. The Fountains of Wayne have hit on a truely winning formula that has left their back catalogue unimpeachable. Any criticism of them is negated by the irony and cynicsm that drips from their lyrics (and we're not talking "trucker hat/PBR" kind of irony here...).
Too funny? Self-deprecating. Too chirpy? Bittersweet. Too derivative? Drop in the ending of "A Day in the Life" by the Beatles ("Leave the Biker", from FOW) or even rip-off yourself, tongue firmly in cheek (3/4 way into Little Red Light, from W.I.M.)
The Fountains of Wayne live in a concept world designed to make us empathize more with the real world, and their latest album expands their vision more fully than the last two. Yet the band's irony makes these viginettes all the more poignant, and that surely is the key to thier brilliance.
Will this album make them more famous? Probably, as Stacy's Mom works her way through MTV2 into the hearts and minds of the nation's kids.
Do they deserve to be more famous? Hell Yeah! They can squeeze more ideas into a 2 1/2 minute pop song than many bands fit into a career.
The big question is, though - Do I want them to be more famous? Or would i prefer to think this world existed only for my entertainment, and that i was the only person in the world that owned the only album ever, to namecheck both the Tappan-Zee bridge and Nyack...
Sigh, ok world, you can share....
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on 10 April 2006
It's very rare for me to find an album that I want to listen to all the way through without feeling the need to skip a track or two. Radiohead's 'The Bends' is one such album, and 'Welcome Interstate Managers' by the excellent Fountains of Wayne is another.
Like many, I guess, I came across FoW through 'Stacey's Mom' which is a brilliantly catchy tune. I then heard them on Simon Mayo's Album Chart Show on R2 which whet my appetite for more.
This album has so many cool facets. It's funny, incisive and well observed, musically interesting and varied, and very well played.
'Hey Julie' is my personal favourite, but every other track is a gem in its own right.
In summary, if you like well written, well performed guitar based music, you can't go far wrong with this album.
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on 15 October 2004
I'm afraid I'll have to disagree with the reviewer who labelled Fountains Of Wayne 'a great singles band', indicating that Welcome Interstate Managers is a patchy affair. Nothing could be further from the truth. WIM is a rarity in that there is no filler whatsover; every single one of its sixteen - very different - tracks is a gem, the kind of big-hearted, witty songs that fill you with a warm glow and leave you smiling all day. Aside from the massive hit Stacy's Mom, the highlights for me are No Better Place, Hackensack, Valley Winter Song and Supercollider, but there's nothing here you'll want to skip; each new song is a slice of perfectly crafted, astutely observed musical storytelling. In fact, the only disappointment is the fact that in the wake of Stacy's Mom the band's subsequent releases seem to have been ignored by the UK radio and TV stations. I've only heard the wonderful Hey Julie once on the radio, and to the best of my knowledge it's received next to no promotion over here, which is a great shame and completely bizarre; you would've thought a big hit single would automatically open the door for further success, but clearly not. This terrific band and their magical output should not be overlooked, so be kind to yourself and buy this record - you won't regret it!
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on 13 June 2003
This instalment of the Fountains Of Wayne story finds our heroes continuing their blissful evocation of the catchiest themes of ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s pop. Their contagiously hooky melodies are complimented by their post-modern lyrical stance. Beneath the jokes and irony, Collingwood and Schlesinger reveal themselves to be observational songwriters par excellence, equalling the heights reached by the likes of Ray Davies, Paul Weller or Squeeze in their heyday.
It is difficult to say what would constitute musical growth for this band, beyond the fact that they rock with more conviction than ever before (check out the rhythm section breakdown on "Bought for a Song"). On this album, the Fountains introduce a few more styles into their pop melange. "Hung Up on You" is faux-country, and a twangy detour. Bacharach worship is in evidence on the sublime "Halley's Waitress". They turn their attention to neglected teens on "Fire Island", with sombre piano, describing a party while the parents are away. The brilliant "Bright Future in Sales" rides a tough Cars-type riff (a la "Denise" on the previous album) and tells the tale of a chap who is up to his neck at work and is about ready to go under. "Stacy's Mom" is similar to "My Best Friend's Girl" in its post-modern Buddy Holly stutter riff. It's the story of a high school kid with a hankering for his girlfriend's mother, misreading every thing she tells him as a sign of interest.
At 16 tracks, perhaps this album could have been pruned a bit, though true fans will savour every note. With three albums under their belt, all of them of the highest quality, Fountains of Wayne have established themselves as one of the top power-pop bands of today.
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on 1 August 2003
Well those Fountain boys have done it again. If you thought that Utopia Parkway was a hard act to follow then you're in for an even more thrilling ride on the power pop rollercoaster. Smart and witty lyrics matched with infectious hooks and choruses to die for. Why these boys ain't huge amazes me, secopnd thoughts they're far too clever for yer average teenage no-brainer, probably best saved for those of us that know a top tune when we hear one. Think I'll slip this one on the walkman and go sit by the P...P...P...POOOOOOL!!!!!
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on 28 January 2009
The Fountains Of Wayne had been peddling their brand of melodic cartoon pop for quite a few years over in the States before 'Stacey's Mum' finally gave them a top 20 hit in the UK. Smart, catchy and accompanied by a decidedly tongue in cheek and goofy video, the single finally put the New Jersey boys on the international map. 'Welcome Interstate Managers' also gave the band a bona fida hit album and, if you missed it back in 2003, there has never been a better time to charge up that I-Tunes card. A more mature collection that 'Utopia Park' - WIM is possibly the groups finest and most fully realised long player to date. 'Stacey's Mum', 'Hey Julie' and 'Mexican Wine' offer huge melodic slices of sunny powerpop and humour, 'Hakensack' and the Beatley 'Fire Island' throw in smart chord changes and lashings of harmonies whilst the gorgeous 'Halley's Waitress' wouldn't shame a Beachboy's best of. The odd filler aside this is a must for fans of intelligent, erudite and catchy pop/rock who like their music with brains and big choruses. Ironically FOW supported the recently reformed Squeeze in Summer 2007 - now that's what i call music.
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on 21 November 2004
Lets be frank about it. This is a great CD. Fountains of Wayne's original and wacky songs are great to listen to. Filled to the brim with cool rythms and brilliant instrumental use, this CD is alot more musical than you would think. The lead vocalist, Chris Collingwood, has a great voice and all together it just radiates good music. This is a brilliant CD and if you don't buy it for yourself, buy it for somebody else.
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on 2 August 2010
More brilliant hook and harmony laden suburban New Jersey power-pop from Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood. Forget Stacy's Mom, brilliant as it is, and get into the other treasures on this fabulous record. "A nearly flawless collection of hummable overtures." Bright Future In Sales is like a tribute to The Cars and follows the escapades of a hapless salesman. Valley Winter Song is a gorgeous nostalgic ballad. All Kinds Of Time takes you into the mind of a quarterback about to make a key pass. Halley's Waitress, the album highlight, laments the state of a crap waitress using a jazz ballad as its vehicle; its amaxing. Fire Island betrays their love of Revolver era Beatlres while Supercollider sounds like them having a go at being Oasis.
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on 29 November 2005
Radio can be strange sometimes, it will promote a huge hit single that will catapult this relatively unknown band into stardom in the UK, then suddenly thats it, this unknown band once again disappears into the shadows. This was very true for The Bloodhound Gang after The Bad Touch got them global recognition they faded away from the light and now Hefty Fine is barely getting any attention.
Fountains of Wayne are practically in the same league here, since Stacy's Mom became a popular song, and its not suprising really since it is one of the best songs to come out during the summer time. I managed to hear Hey Julie quite a few times on my local radio, which prompted me to buy the album. Was it worth it or was it not?
Well to quote Jaret from Bowling for Soup 'If these songs don't bring a smile to your face then your obviously in some sorta coma'. These songs have got to be some of the most uplifting tunes to be on a record, even their song about an american football moment 'All Kinds of Time' is strangely beautiful. It is very hard to categorise Fountains of Wayne, since you have the pop tinged tunes of Mexican Wine and Stacy's Mom, then there's the sped-up punkish tunes of Little Red Light and Bright Future in Sales, THEN there's the ballads like Hailley's Waitress and Valley Winter Song.
I think my personal favourite will always be Hey Julie, never has there been a song that is so simple in its playing and lyrical content,but yet as remarkably uplifting in my mind.
This is definately a record that will brighten up anybodys day
:-) Buy it now and turn that frown upside down.
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