FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE – Traffic And Weather (Virgin)

Fountains Of Wayne are my guilty secret – I shouldn’t really like them because they are American and they make commercial pop music, but their songs are just so damn good that I can’t help myself. This is only their fourth album in a dozen years, but once again it is packed full of classic power pop like ‘Someone To Love’ and ’92 Subaru’. The title track uses the lyrical concept of ‘We belong together like traffic and weather’ in the story of love at the newsdesk, and ‘Fire In The Canyon’ is a sort of stylish pop/country song. ‘This Better Be Good’ is as good as anything on The Feeling’s first album, and on a lot of these songs they do sound like a US version of the band, but then they were doing this sort of thing a decade before The Feeling even existed. ‘Michael And Heather At The Baggage Claim’ is one of their deceptively simple songs that you can’t help but hum along with the first time you hear it, and ‘Strapped For Cash’ is horn assisted pop/soul. ‘The Hotel Majestic’ and ‘New Routine’ are a couple more fine pop songs, with the former taken at a leisurely pace and the latter upping the revs. ‘Seatbacks And Traytables’ casts a knowing eye over the problems of constant touring – never knowing what town you are in next and the feeling that it is always ‘New city, same stuff’. I think what sets Fountains Of Wayne apart from other bands playing the same sort of music is that their lyrics have humour and bite, and are not just there to fill out the song. If the only thing that you have ever heard by the band is ‘Stacey’s Mom’ then you should already know whether or not you will like this album, and if you haven’t even heard that then search it out now and enjoy some classic pop.