For most of the band’s career, Fountains Of Wayne have been the antithesis of modern pop – over talented and undervalued in equal measure. Save for their brief flirtation with popularity on releasing Stacey’s Mom and Hey Julie, they’ve kept themselves to themselves, and their art remains undiluted and uncontaminated.
They’re the perennial storytellers of their time – while others are content to churn out nonsensical babble about nothing in particular, FoW assess the nuisances of life through a series of endearing protagonists (for a fine example of this, turn on to second track, Richie and Ruben). Each effort moves steadily towards a catharsis, never wavering from the band’s effortless brand of guitar-led pop/rock.
It’s a sincere, deeply personal record. It sneaks into our subconscious and moulds itself around our own intimate experiences. It moves us, often through the central narrators of each song, but sometimes through suggestion. Like so much of modern-day life, the joy is in the mystery – maybe we all reach for something different. It’s food for thought, certainly.
Action Hero and Workingman’s Hands confront the demands of manhood. To quote the former, “…but the action hero swears he’s feeling just fine. He’s got to finish saving the world for all mankind” is surely a nod to the self-sacrificing nature of responsibility, played out through someone to whom we are never fully acquainted. Can we lose ourselves in the race to protect and provide for others? At the close of play, we’re left without an ending, perhaps fittingly so…
But it’s not all seriousness and contemplation. Radio Bar is an upbeat gem near the album’s end. It’s the rounding of a corner, an overcoming of the odds. With trumpets and tempo, it’s uplifting and life affirming. It’s a needed reminder that life’s not all that bad, really.
The charms of Sky Full of Holes are endless. It’s believable, relatable and simply loveable. It’s a triumphant return from Fountains of Wayne, four years in the making.
Sky Full Of Holes is out now on Lojinx