Fountains of Wayne – “Sky Full of Holes” (2011, Yep Roc Records)
Reviewer: Matthew Sanderlin
Everyone who owned a radio between 2000 and the current day has likely heard “Stacy’s Mom.” And while that snarky, little masterpiece of a pop tune is still brilliant and timeless in its own right, Fountains of Wayne is much more than even a hit like “Stacy’s Mom” allows.
Sky Full of Holes, the troupe’s fifth official studio album, is a gorgeous collection of strikingly memorable power-pop songs. And while the Fountains have always featured brilliant compositions and melody coupled with infinite wit, Sky Full of Holes is (somehow) easily their greatest project to date, one of 2011′s best releases.
Fountain leaders Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger are the modern-day Lennon/McCartney, and that’s no exaggeration. Their uncanny ability to craft satiating singles and high-caliber pop tunes has gone nearly unmatched throughout the past decade– And though I rarely agree with the publication,Rolling Stone‘s decision to name Fountains of Wayne “‘the voice’ of Generation X upon the collapse of Nirvana” is more than fitting.
Sky Full of Holes exemplifies this “voice” even more aptly than even culturally relevant hits such as “Valley of Malls” and “Someone to Love” did previously. Two off-beat entrepreneurs attempt to overcome the waning economy in “Richie and Ruben,” the hardworking American gets an admirable nod in “Workingman’s Hands,” the overly-produced synth-pop of the the 2010′s era is astutely parodied in “Someone’s Gonna Break Your Heart,” and the album’s poignant finale (“Cemetery Guns”) is a military-themed requiem for the ages. In a nutshell, Sky is 2011′s own personal soundtrack.
Not only is the lyrical material relevant, but the musical material is supreme in all respects. Production is crisp, but far from overdone (sample “Acela” for the greatest balance of raw and smooth). Arrangements are full, colourful, and appropriate (see “A Dip in the Ocean,” “Radio Bar,” and “Someone’s Gonna Break Your Heart” for the prime of the prime examples). And the melodies and harmonies seem effortless, yet completely flawless. “Cold Comfort Flowers,” “Firelight Waltz,” and “Action Hero” are the most noteworthy exemplifications, though all thirteen tunes are rich in the melodic department.
Basically, Sky Full of Holes is a must-own. Power-pop at its best, and one of the best of the year. Don’t miss it.