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Fountains of Wayne - Traffic and Weather

Released on Virgin Records, 4/3/2007

It was with no small amount of irony that Fountains of Wayne received a "Best New Artist" Grammy in 2003 for Welcome Interstate Managers. The aforementioned album was in fact Fountains of Wayne’s third album. Buoyed by the ode to horny, pubescent MILF lusting, "Stacy’s Mom" put Fountains of Wayne on the map. Four years later, we’ve got Traffic and Weather, a decidedly boring album title, but the Fountains have not lost their gift for taking the mundane and turning it into something hilarious.

Fountains of Wayne gets things started with the clever "Someone to Love". This same track in the hands of an emo-group (Snow Patrol or Death Cab for Cutie) would be the weeper of the year. However, Fountains of Wayne pokes fun at the plight of being perpetually single. Between jobs, time at the gym, and "The King of Queens", is it any wonder we can’t seem to find 'someone to love'. The two subjects of this tribute to singlehood, Seth Shapiro and Beth Mackenzie are both looking for the same thing, but naturally miss each other jockeying for a taxi.

The tongue in cheek antics continue in the hilarious "92 Subaru". Fountains of Wayne manages to poke fun at any song that worships a fast ride with four wheels. Additionally skewered is the whole subculture of The Fast and The Furious viewers who get off on suping up a 90’s model Civic as a street racer. Our hero purchases his Subaru from some a couple of ladies in New Hampshire and proceeds to overhaul his ride with a plasma television, GPS, moonroof, and a laundry list of other absurd amenities.

Yet another standout track is "Yolanda Hayes". It’s hard to fathom any artist talented enough to take a trip to the DMV and turn it into a catchy and entertaining tune. But, this is Fountains of Wayne we’re talking about. For the jaded, cynical, and brokenhearted, the most reliable person in life may just be the friendly "Yolanda Hayes" who cheerfully asks for six forms of ID for hours and days on end. Love comes when you least expect it, why not at DMV?

Speaking of love and trust, "This Better Be Good" delves into the darker side of the "L" word. For anyone who has suffered through a relationship with a pathological liar, "This Better Be Good" should strike a few chords. How does one explain holding the hand of a guy wearing light blue Docker pants? Sharing a hotdog with mustard with a polyester jerk? Hanging with some dude wearing a baseball cap at the Gap?

Despite the mundane title, Traffic and Weather is a winner. While many of the tracks from Fountains of Wayne’s latest sound similar, the subject matter explored and the manner in which Fountains of Wayne addresses it more than makes up for this. Traffic and Weather is a wonderful follow up to Welcome Interstate Managers and despite the curse of the "Best New Artist" Grammy, it would appear Fountains of Wayne will be around for awhile, thankfully.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars