4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Traffic & Weather (+Bonus) (Audio CD)
Fountains Of Wayne may not be the most prolific band in the world (this is their 4th album in 10 years), but they always deliver quality material, and 'Traffic & Weather' is no exception. The sound on this album is a lot more streamlined and linear than on their last album 'Welcome Interstate Managers', and there is also less in the way of suprises than on previous albums (there's no musical side-steps like "Hailey's Waitress" or "Laser Show" for example). Instead we get a solid album of hook-laden, anthemic power pop that sounds like what a combination of Weezer and Crowded House would sound like...if both of those bands were actually any good *cough*. Lyrically F.O.W. are on top form here as well. They are one of the few bands who actually write songs about something other than the traditional love/heartache/remorse presets that most bands stick to. "Strapped For Cash" is about a guy being chased by the heavies for money he owes to someone..."Yolanda Hayes" seems to be about a girl who gets frustrated working behind a desk all day..."92 Subaru" is about a guy who buys what he thinks is the best car in the world... but it's the way they infuse these stories with brilliantly dry wit and knowingly corny pop-culture references that makes Fountains Of Wayne stand out lyrically from most other bands. Some highlights on 'Traffic & Weather' include the sublime opener "Someone To Love" (which features Melissa Auf De Mar on backng vocals), an immaculate recreation of 'Rubber Soul'-era Beatles crossed with The Byrds ("Revolving Dora"), the almost new-wave style drone rock of the title track, and the mock-hippie campfire singalong "Planet Of Weed". There are a couple of minor criticisms however (hence 4 stars and not 5): (a) even though it's a good song, "Fire In The Canyon" is a really just a blatant re-write of "Valley Winter Song" from the last album. (b) as mentioned already, the musical variation is much more limited on this album than before (even though one track features the most criminally under-used instrument ever: the zither). And (c) "Hotel Majestic" and "New Routine" are a little too F.O.W.-by-numbers compared with the rest of the songs....but none of this is anywhere near enough to suggest that you don't go out and purchase this album immediately. This band's lack of sales considering how good they are is baffling, and there probably won't be a better conventional pop album released this year.