Having been charmed by ‘Radiation Vibe’ way back in the heady days of my 90s youth, I’ve always had a soft spot for the Fountains Of Wayne. Despite the radio conquering ‘Stacy’s Mom’ they have always felt slightly under appreciated, dismissed as a mere good time band.
Whilst there is no doubting that their Beach Boys melodies and witty word play can at first seem whimsical, scratch deeper and there has always been more than enough substance and intelligence to warrant attention.
‘Sky Full Of Holes’ is the band’s fifth studio album and whilst retaining the usual lyrical charm and musical fizz you would expect from a FOW release there is a new found maturity flowing through the record.
The album is filled with sunshine tunes, masking a melancholic heart. From the loveable losers of ‘Richie And Ruben’ and their ill-fated business adventures to the deeply affecting tale of a stressed out man hitting middle age in ‘Action Hero’, the CD is filled with damaged but engaging characters. ‘Action Hero’ is a particularly beautiful lament, with our ‘hero’ still thinking of himself as the invincible figure of his youth, not ready to face up to the old man he is becoming.
‘Radio Bar’ again at first listen appears to be an upbeat pop song concerned only with a good time, but dig a bit deeper and it hides a yearning for a time gone by, a memory of days spent, not to come.
There is a country tinge to the beguiling love letter of ‘A Road Song’, a charming ode to a loved one whilst away on tour. Filled with wonderful observational lyrics like ‘I bought you a light blue T-shirt last night, from some band I couldn’t stand but their logo’s alright’ it mixes loneliness and boredom to beautiful effect.
Saving the best for last, ‘Cemetery Guns’ is a touching account of a military funeral, the palpable sense of loss and sorrow conveyed with the simple ‘cemetery guns go bang bang bang, shooting all the sky full of holes, twenty-one times in a row’. One of the best songs the band have ever recorded and a million miles removed from the bubble-gum pop of ‘Stacy’s Mom’.
So with ‘Sky Full Of Holes’ the band appear to be approaching middle age, the joyful spring is still in their step but perhaps just a hint of arthritis accompanies it. ‘Sky Full Of Holes’ is engaging, brimming with bittersweet pop songs and one of the best albums of the summer so far.
Find out more about Fountains Of Wayne HERE.