Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Wayne's World

Tom Hanks's charming little 1996 film That Thing You Do! took its title from the song recorded by an Erie, Pennsylvania, one-hit wonder that presciently named itself the Oneders.

The song is an impossibly catchy slice of musical perfection. It's played in pieces or in its entirely at least eight or 10 times as the film unspools, and not once does it get repetitive.

"That Thing You Do!" (the tune, not the movie) was written by Adam Schlesinger, who in his day job is part of the stellar North Jersey quarter Fountains of Wayne. FoW recently released their third CD, Welcome Interstate Managers, which has been jangling through my iPod headphones quite a bit recently.

If the music world had any justice, Welcome Interstate Managers would have gone quadruple platinum by now. The record is an explosion of guitar-driven power pop, tight harmonies, sweet, smart songwriting, and hooks whose addictive properties approach crack cocaine levels. FoW has produced a work of immaculate musicianship, an accomplished collection of songs that are clever without being smug and that bounce joyfully around your head all day long.

Welcome Interstate Managers has spawned a modest hit in the form of "Stacy's Mom," the record's first single. "Stacy's Mom" tells the story of an adolescent boy's crush on his friend's mother, and is vividly illustrated by the song's bright, cheery video, featuring a smoking-hot Rachel Hunter as the title character. It's a snappy, accessible song from a snappy, accessible album.

Indeed, Fountains of Wayne have long been critics' darlings. That label sometimes serves as a warning to casual music fans and non-nerds to stay away. (See Radiohead.) In this case, the reviewers got it spot-on. Impeccably produced and fun without being sophomoric, Welcome Interstate Managers marks a step up in FoW's showmanship and in its maturation as a band. The Oneders would be proud. Grade: A

1 Comments:

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