REVIEW: Fountains of Wayne Welcome Interstate Managers
Fountains of Wayne: Welcome Interstate Managers [Capitol, 2003]
Three words? fun, feel-good flapdoodle
Coming from Britain, there are certain things about America which I find particularly nice. One, good avocados are very easy to find. And two, you can listen to popular indie-rockness for hours on end without wanting to slit your wrists for all the Britpoppy wailing.
Enter, Fountains of Wayne. Their latest, Welcome Interstate Managers, is possibly one of the most diverting things you can do involving several guitars and someone from New Jersey. Right from the start, the brash and fun-loving riffs on "Mexican Wine" make it quite clear that this is not going to be an angsty depress-fest. Even better, after a few minutes it’s just as clear that you’re not in for some sort of Blink-182/Sum 41 teen-rock wall of guitar noise.
And you could probably be forgiven for assuming that FOW is just more immature, American Pie soundtrack rubbish: I mean, releasing a single called "Stacy’s Mom" is not great publicity unless you’re going for that giggling teen demographic (especially if you’ve seen the video, which contains that perfect blend of adolescent girls and scantily-clad women which makes any teenage boy feel all funny inside).
But taken together with the rest of the album, "Stacy’s Mom" makes perfect sense. It’s just another playful, nostalgic look at growing up, which Welcome Interstate Managers boasts in bucketfuls. "Bright Future in Sales" is both amusing and touchingly melancholy (like a drunken department store Santa, if you will), and "Hackensack" is just the right combination of wistfulness and mild irony.
That’s not to say that Interstate Managers couldn’t do with a bit of editing. "Hung Up On You," the bizarrely country-esque ballad slipped in between with all the the more sophisticated alternative rock, is not only out of place, but quite horrifying to listen to, and too unspeakably schmaltzy for words ("Ever since you hung up on me/I’m hung up on you"). The fact also remains that, in general, this is not an album you could very accurately describe as original. It positively reeks of high school keg parties and summer jobs, which may be intentional but is nonetheless a little disappointing— especially given the creativity that peeks its head out every now and then.
In the end, I like Interstate Managers more than I thought I would. It’s fun and easy, cheery without being irritating, and, for most of the time, just refreshingly silly. Good show.