Fountains of Wayne
Sky Full of Holes


2.5
average

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
August 1st, 2011 | 41 replies | 12,453 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Finding it harder and harder to care about the past.

I am hopelessly addicted to nostalgia. In this I don’t think I’m that much different from the rest of the world. I dread growing older, I have a peculiar affinity for keeping useless junk that long ago grew thick with dust around in various drawers and desk corners, I refuse to throw away concert t-shirts from half a decade ago – in short, I don’t let go of the past easily. It’s a habit I’ve been trying to break, but few things make that harder than music. Listening to Elliott Smith reminds me of a hundred different things, from middle school to break ups, while the Stills remind me of the last summer before college and Cut Copy vividly recreates living in my fraternity house two years ago. Fountains of Wayne, meanwhile, conjures up my first year in high school, a time when I thought I was so ***ing cool for listening to Welcome Interstate Managers before “Stacy’s Mom” hit the radio (I’m either the only person to do this or my memory of myself in high school is a lot more flattering than reality). Welcome Interstate Managers was one of the first legit power-pop records I’d ever listened to, and I could have done a lot worse. It’s FoW at their most wry, Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger at the peak of their tongue-in-cheek lyrical powers and with sixteen killer hooks to boot. I bring all this up because, in the context of their follow-ups, 2007’s Traffic and Weather and now Sky Full of Holes, I feel like nostalgia has betrayed me once again.

Was Welcome Interstate Managers a great record? Listening to it again I love every second of it, even the ill-advised country romp, yet I hesitate to label it as such without worrying about my nostalgic affection for it, an unreasonable adoration based more upon what doors it opened for me musically and because “Hackensack” made my first crush swoon. Sky Full of Holes, in style and in execution, is not that much different from Welcome Interstate Managers, yet 22-year-old me has trouble finding anything to enjoy in it. I want to say that the hooks just aren’t as good as they used to be, but “The Summer Place” and “Someone’s Gonna Break Your Heart” are the stuff power-pop wet dreams are made of. I want to say that Schlesinger and Collingwood’s inane slice-of-life lyrics have begun to grate, but their rhymes have always been banal and their massive cast of characters predictably caricatured. This is a band that has always been resistant to change, but power-pop bands make their living with their melodies, and FoW have always had those in plentiful supply.

So is it Fountains of Wayne’s fault that Sky Full of Holes doesn’t have me humming its tunes under my breath for weeks on end, or is it my own romantic expectations that can never reasonably be fulfilled? I can appreciate what the band is doing here, favoring acoustic-based melodies over bombastic choruses and poor diversions into genre traps that made nearly half of Traffic and Weather nigh unlistenable. As Sky Full of Holes rolls along, however, and the hooks don’t punch quite as urgently as “The Summer Place” or as smoothly as “A Dip In The Ocean,” it just seems like another entry in the FoW School of Songwriting. Create motley cast of everyday characters, like a pair of failed businessmen (“Richie and Ruben”). Write a song about their personal problems, preferably with cultural references that are sure to date your album, like the unnecessary Will Ferrell name drop on “A Road Song.” Throw in an aces hook that almost makes all these mundane Everyman problems seem worthwhile and you have your next Fountains of Wayne single, albeit one that sounds pretty damn similar to the one before and after it.

I recognize that this is the exact formula that was used on Welcome Interstate Managers and Utopia Parkway before it, but I can’t reconcile those two power-pop prototypes with this humdrum drudgery. There’s something to be said for consistency, and for fifteen years Fountains of Wayne have been nothing short of the pinnacles of consistency. Yet there’s also something to be said for taking a fresh tack on things, refusing to grow stale and creating something that will cause someone to look back fondly years and years later and remember the good times and the bad times that that record soundtracked. Perhaps Sky Full of Holes will be that album to some impressionable youth whose idea of power pop revolves around Justin Bieber ballads, but for longtime fans it just sounds tired and dusty. Fountains of Wayne are still doing what they’ve always done, but I think I’ve finally grown up.



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user ratings (17)
Chart.
3.1
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
August 1st 2011



15335 Comments


Stacy's Mom has got it goin on, she's all i want and i waited for so loong

stacy can't you seeee
you're just not the girl for meee

nice review btw haven't listened to this yet

Digging: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus

mallen-
August 1st 2011



1235 Comments


1st paragraph is all too familiar for me too...

klap
Staff Reviewer
August 1st 2011



10258 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

stacy's mom - great song or greatest song

Digging: The Bilinda Butchers - Heaven

mallen-
August 1st 2011



1235 Comments


greatest

cvlts
August 1st 2011



8954 Comments


hey its that one band that had that one song

Scoot
August 1st 2011



17681 Comments


hey its that one band that had that one song (like thirty)

Digging: Unjust - Glow

F0RBES
August 1st 2011



246 Comments


Only heard one song by this band, guess what one?

I think it will stay that way.

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
August 1st 2011



49794 Comments


This band is still around?

Digging: Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) - You Will Eventually Be Forgotten

LeftyStyley
August 1st 2011



44 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Oh that's right no one cares about Hey Julie or Hackensack. Albums pretty nifty. Gonna listen a few more times before I rate. Great review.

lynit
August 1st 2011



39 Comments


or that one song about that girl named Denise
who makes me weak at the knees.
she drives a lavender lexus
she lives in queens but her dad lives in texas.

in all honesty, check out Utopia Parkway, it's kinda chill like this album but with more rockier moments to it. or the self-titled which is probably their best.

klap
Staff Reviewer
August 2nd 2011



10258 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

utopia parkway is my second favorite

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
August 2nd 2011



20855 Comments


Who throws away concert t-shirts from half a decade ago?

Ever been to an AC/DC concert? They don't even throw away concert t-shirts from half a century ago

DiceMan
August 2nd 2011



7068 Comments


davey we all know nobody likes AC/DC

klap
Staff Reviewer
August 2nd 2011



10258 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

hey davey some of us are still growing in our youth and aren't old washed up australians

toxin.
August 2nd 2011



12021 Comments


The first paragraph was pretty great.
Rest of the review did its job: I will never ever check this out. I didn't even like Stacy's Mom. Besides the lyrics

mvdu
August 2nd 2011



599 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I will never outgrow Fountains of Wayne. I think there are plenty of uptempo songs, and the ones that aren't are pretty or quirky. 4.5 from me.

Firecracker
August 2nd 2011



106 Comments


Your first paragraph is my life summed up right now.

BigHans
August 2nd 2011



26455 Comments


Fountains of Wayne, meanwhile, conjures up my first year in high school, a time when I thought I was so ***ing cool for listening to Welcome Interstate Managers before “Stacy’s Mom” hit the radio (I’m either the only person to do this or my memory of myself in high school is a lot more flattering than reality)

^ HIPSTER.

Welcome Interstate Managers is a pretty good album, A little overrated, but solid. I was living in LA when that came out and everybody was talking about it.

Phideaux
August 2nd 2011



1653 Comments


Sowing: I was gonna do that when I saw the review. Should've figured someone would beat me to it.

bloc
August 2nd 2011



34679 Comments


CAN I HAVE ANOTHER GLASS OF MEXICAN WINE?

Digging: Anberlin - Lowborn



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