Artist: "Fountains Of Wayne"
Album: "Utopia Parkway"
Genre: Alternative Rock
Reviewer: Max Burbank
Review: ‘Fountains of Wayne’ is unquestionably the best band ever named for a lawn ornament store in Wayne New Jersey. In 2003 they were nominated for a Grammy “Best New Artist”, which is fittingly absurd, since the band’s first album, the self-titled “Fountains of Wayne” was released in 1996.
I love all their stuff, but my favorite has to be the ’99 release, “Utopia Parkway”. Riffing on various musical styles from the seventies through nineties, the songs are funny as hell, but they’re more than parody. The lyrics capture the stoner insipidness of a wasted New Jersey youth, but always from a first person point of view. The end effect creates a mental bifurcation. You laugh at the characters stupidity while sympathizing with how completely unstupid you felt when you did the same things.
“Prom Theme” unstintingly describes the emptiness of high schools final ritual, but from the inside, where you felt like it was some huge, important deal. “Laser Show” isn’t just a power ballad about idiot youth smoking dope and going to see ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ in a Planetarium stuffed with like minded losers, it’s about how awesome it felt to BE in that car, on the way to that show, with your best buds none of whom had any idea how to get a date any more than you did, and who years from now you’ll wonder why you hung out with at all, but MAN, you loved them then! “Red Dragon Tattoo” isn’t just about a dope getting inked ‘cause he thinks a girl who’s out of his league might take him more seriously, it’s about being that guy and having no idea at all it isn’t going to work.
Randy Newman in his prime wrote songs like this, character pieces so finely wrought the people they were about loved them. It’s not on this album, but how many teenage boys do you know (hands up if you’re one of them) who thought ‘Stacy’s Mom’ was a song about some cool kid who was gonna get it on with a local MILF? But like Newman, the songs understand the people they’re about so damn well that in they end they aren’t cruel or even ironic. They’re empathic. They’re songs about the sorry state all of us are in, filled with real yearning and pathos that are in now way diminished just because all that fine emotion is spent on doing stuff anybody should know better than
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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