Sunday, September 4, 2011


Little funny stories and slices of American suburban culture are FoW's stock-in-trade, kinda like our own Barenaked Ladies or, more closely, England's Squeeze.  And if you wanna get picky, I suppose you could say they all come from The Kinks style of songwriting.  And certainly, in Wayne's world, all music cues come straight from The Beatles, including guitar sounds, echo on the piano, basslines, you name it.  Anyway, that's a good thing, because you're mostly listening to the words, so it pays to have great sounds behind.

Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood have this down pat, and all locked up in the States.  Only They Might Be Giants also manage to put humour into their songs with any decent results, but they are a lot more wacky and not really trying for a large audience.  FoW manage to have success because the songs aren't out-and-out funny, but rather clever, somewhat ironic and a bit touching.  Action Hero tells the story of a basic boring dad, an embarrassment to his kids, but in his mind he's a superhero leading this family.  Verse one tells us he's a goof, searching for his keys on the floor of a restaurant, but verse two puts us in the hospital as the doctor monitors his heart, and tells him to watch out for the stress.  The action hero is fighting a race against time.  That's all you need two verses and chorus, we get the whole story with a little laugh up front and some melancholy to follow.  We totally get and love the guy.

There's nothing quite as obvious as Stacy's Mom, and it's possible FoW won't ever go that bold again, courting the frat crowd with somewhat cheaper laughs.  Some of the writing here is actually more abstract, without the usual story and observations.  But there's still plenty of writing makes you smile and nod in respect of their talents.  A Road Song is a pure love song, from musician to spouse at home, admitting this a pure cliche, as he misses her from the tour bus:  "Even if you roll your eyes and grown, I'm still writing you a road song that you can call your own."  As always, it's the little details that make the song so fun to follow.  They're in Wisconsin, they ate at Cracker Barrel, on the bus they've watched 40 movies with Will Farrell.  That's the stuff that makes Fountains Of Wayne a success each time out.

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