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Album Review: Fountains of Wayne's 'Sky Full of Holes'

August 1, 2011 |  5:31 pm

  Fountains of Wayne 1

That a band as literate as Fountains of Wayne ever had a hit boggles the mind, but lo and behold, in 2003 the band scored a smash with the horny suburban anthem “Stacy’s Mom.” Indeed, there’s no confection of hooks and melody as shamelessly immediate as that on “Sky Full of Holes,” Fountains of Wayne’s fifth LP, and first in four years.

Then again, if you’re still listening to them, it’s not for the singles, but the songcraft. Primary writers Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger land somewhere between John Irving and John Updike in their lyrical outlook, documenting East Coast middle-class mores with equal parts nostalgia, pop-cultured irony and a perverse humor that might give “Flight of the Conchords” a run for the laugh track.

As such, “Sky” teems with immaculate power pop, spanning jangling Beatlesque rockers like “The Summer Place” through the bittersweet balladry of “I Hate to See You Like This” (sample lyric: “Come on girl, get it together/You can’t watch infomercials forever”). It’s a remarkably consistent album, full of snappy arrangements, surprising chord changes and tasteful instrumentation, but Collingwood’s voice embodies its true appeal. There’s an innate melancholy in his tone that suggests something deeper lingering behind the songs’ narratives, imbuing the words with subtly alienated emotion. That storytelling depth raises Fountains of Wayne to the apex of their genre, imparting a wry, cynical worldview that lingers well after the snap, crackle and fizz subsides.

Fountains of Wayne

“Sky Full of Holes”

(Yep Roc)

Three stars (Out of four)


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--Matt Diehl