Tuesday, December 6, 2016


Guilty. There, I've admitted it. The first part of tackling a problem is acknowledging it, or whatever. My problem is sheer laziness, refusing to deal with the living room. Boxes, piles, papers, projects, magazines. And of course, CD's. I have no good filing system for the newer review copies coming in, and that led to the following problem: I'm really, really late reviewing this album, because I just found it at the bottom of a pile, underneath a magazine from July I haven't read yet. Darn thing came out five months ago, but I love it so much, I must right this wrong, by writing.

CD in question comes from the fertile mind of Chris Collingwood, heretofore the lead singer of the beloved New England pop group Fountains of Wayne. Although ostensibly a solo album, Collingwood didn't want people to consider this a side project, so he stuck a band name on it, also acknowledging the efforts of top players such as Davey Faragher (bass, Elvis Costello, Cracker) and producer Mitchell Froom. F.O.W. were always known for witty and wonderfully catchy pop tracks such as Stacy's Mom, and that hasn't changed here for Collingwood. The biggest difference is the blatant hit-single sound from the 70's has been toned down, in favour of a little more laid-back, songwriter feel.

Certainly there's a classic feel to the songs, and both Froom and Collingwood have cited The Moody Blues as a sonic influence, a particularly cleanly produced bunch, with the rich use of mellotron string effects and keyboards. It's always refreshing to hear so much piano, and I'm one who falls for the light-lush touch. But the key is the crisp writing, Collingwood's ear candy-coated lyrics: "They walk among us, the stars of New York." Breezy is certainly the tone of that particular song, a little summertime ditty that continues Collingwood's position as heir to the Nick Lowe-Squeeze style. As always, he proves a keen proponent of writing songs about songwriting, MInor Is The Lonely Key a melancholy McCartney number. And he loves to turn a cliche upside-down: "The bird in the tree won't shut the hell up," he tells us in You Can Come Round If You Want To.

Anyway, let's pretend I'm not really late, I'm just doing up my "Best albums of the year" list. There, now I'm early. And I don't have to clean up.

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