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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome!!
"Sky Full Of Holes" is the 5th studio record from Fountains of Wayne and clearly one of their best. Named after a now-closed ornament store in NJ, they have a unique power pop sound with vivid and inspiring lyrics. Filled with catchy hooks and sweet melodies, "Sky" shows the growth and evolution of the band since their break through song "Stacy's Mom." Their songs tell a...
Published on August 2, 2011 by Polar Bear

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Fountains of Disappointment
Way too mellow. Doesn't compare to earlier FOW.
Published 5 months ago by J.B.


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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome!!, August 2, 2011
"Sky Full Of Holes" is the 5th studio record from Fountains of Wayne and clearly one of their best. Named after a now-closed ornament store in NJ, they have a unique power pop sound with vivid and inspiring lyrics. Filled with catchy hooks and sweet melodies, "Sky" shows the growth and evolution of the band since their break through song "Stacy's Mom." Their songs tell a variety of stories, some entertaining, some funny, and some sad. "Richie and Ruben" is a perfect example. Written about two guys blow all their friends' money on get-rich-quick schemes, I found myself laughing from the start with lines like this: "They opened up a bar called Living Hell/Right from the start, it didn't go too well." "Acela" has some awesome blues-influenced pop grooves that will have you bouncing around in no time. "A Road Song" features some country-style twangs and is about a love letter written by a rock musician. It has some cool hooks and you'll be singing the chorus long after the song is over. If you like your music crisp and fresh with a lot of witty, humorous lyrics, you're going to love this! Give it a try and you won't be disappointed.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Power-poppers turn a bit more rootsy and mature, August 27, 2011
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This review is from: Sky Full of Holes (Audio CD)
The first thing that strikes me about 'Sky Full of Holes,' the fifth studio album by the New York power-pop quartet Fountains Of Wayne, is how the band has stripped back the '80s New Wave cheese that marked their previous album (2007's amusing, if lightweight, 'Traffic & Weather') in favor of a rootsier sound that often recalls the Jayhawks and early Wilco.

The band has dabbled in country and folky sounds in the past -- most notably on "Valley Winter Song" and "Hung Up On You" from their 2003 commercial breakthrough 'Welcome Interstate Managers,' "Fire in the Canyon" and "Seatbacks and Traytables" from 'Traffic & Weather,' and a few rarities like their covers of Ricky Nelson's "Today's Teardrops" and Jackson Browne's "These Days" (as well as spare originals like "Imperia" and "Places") -- but they seem to be doing a lot more of it here. I especially notice it on "Workingman's Hands" (a mostly respectful portrait, with a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor: "Now your Uncle John walked a mile to school in a storm / And it was uphill both ways"), the sweet "A Road Song," the gorgeous "Firelight Waltz," and the haunting "Cemetery Guns"; plus, the chugging, mid-tempo "Acela," about a lovelorn boozer on a train, has an almost bluesy sound; and even the hilarious "Richie and Ruben" and the brassy, nostalgic "Radio Bar" are noticeably less reliant on guitar crunch and jangle than most of the band's other up-tempo numbers, though no less hooky.

Of course, the band's signature power-pop can still be found here, especially on the opening track "The Summer Place," "Someone's Gonna Break Your Heart," the psychedelic "Cold Comfort Flowers," the breezy summer anthem "A Dip in the Ocean," the urgent choruses of "Action Hero," and even the slow-burn ballad "Hate to See You Like This."

The other thing that strikes me is how the lyrics -- by bassist Adam Schlesinger and guitarist/lead singer Chris Collingwood -- seem a little darker and more mature than usual. The pair has long had a penchant for clever character sketches and portraits of day-to-day life (growing up in suburban NY and New Jersey on 1999's 'Utopia Parkway,' personal and professional woes of nine-to-fivers on 'Welcome Interstate Managers,' etc.) peppered with down-to-earth, matter-of-fact references to pop culture and brand names. 'Sky Full of Holes' has more of the same, but with gentler humor and more sympathy: In "Richie and Ruben," no matter how misguided the wannabe-entrepreneur title characters may be, the satire's real target is the first-person narrator who has kept lending them money despite the total lack of return on his investments; "Hate to See You Like This," although similar to the self-destructive-girl ode "She's Got A Problem" (from the band's 1996 self-titled debut), finds a better balance between mild ribbing and tender affection as its narrator nudges a female friend out of a deep depression ("You can't just watch infomercials forever / If you need a hand, why don't you take mine?"); "A Road Song," like the previous album's "Hotel Majestic," deals with the touring-musician life in witty detail, but in a much less complaining tone as its narrator keeps in touch with a loved one back home; and "Someone's Gonna Break Your Heart" opens with a funny image ("Staring at the sun with no pants on") only to give way to more poetic observations ("Melancholy comes like a robin at your window"). A couple of character studies find the band addressing middle-age concerns: In "The Summer Place," a 40-year-old woman reflects on her teenage fears and humiliations when she visits her parents' old vacation home; and in "Action Hero," which opens with a harried family man on a mundane outing ("[H]is wife begins to sneeze / And his son is throwing peas and eating with his feet"), the protagonist's seemingly silly daydreams turn extra poignant (especially the notion of "racing against time") when he finds himself confronted with heart trouble. Most striking of all is the closing track, "Cemetery Guns," a touchingly understated portrait of a military funeral.

So, where would I say this stands among FOW's body of work? I wouldn't call it a departure, so much as simply a natural progression in the band's growth -- from the sweet-and-crunchy nice-guy rock of their debut, to the punchier and more cohesive 'Utopia Parkway' (still my favorite album of theirs), to the more ambitious and eclectic 'Welcome Interstate Managers' (with 'Traffic & Weather' something of an artistic step backwards, albeit a fun one). 'Sky Full of Holes' is probably not the first FOW CD I would recommend to beginning fans, but longtime fans may find it rewarding.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of 2011's Best!, August 2, 2011
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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 powerpop songs. And while the Fountains have always been melodically brilliant, compositionally inventive, and infinitely witty- Sky Full of Holes is (somehow) easily their greatest project to date; and additionally, 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 also, 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). Oh, and the melodies... And harmonies... They are 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. Powerpop at its best, and one of the best of the year. Don't miss it.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome!, August 2, 2011
This review is from: Sky Full of Holes (Audio CD)
"Sky Full Of Holes" is the 5th studio record from Fountains of Wayne and clearly one of their best. Named after a now-closed ornament store in NJ, they have a unique power pop sound with vivid and inspiring lyrics. Filled with catchy hooks and sweet melodies, "Sky" shows the growth and evolution of the band since their break through song "Stacy's Mom." Their songs tell a variety of stories, some entertaining, some funny, and some sad. "Richie and Ruben" is a perfect example. Written about two guys blow all their friends' money on get-rich-quick schemes, I found myself laughing from the start with lines like this: "They opened up a bar called Living Hell/Right from the start, it didn't go too well." "Acela" has some awesome blues-influenced pop grooves that will have you bouncing around in no time. "A Road Song" features some country-style twangs and is about a love letter written by a rock musician. It has some cool hooks and you'll be singing the chorus long after the song is over. If you like your music crisp and fresh with a lot of witty, humorous lyrics, you're going to love this! Give it a try and you won't be disappointed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grows and Grows, October 2, 2011
This review is from: Sky Full of Holes (Audio CD)
This album stands on it's own.

First listen, okay...
Second listen, not bad at all...
Third and beyond, you can't remember a time before hearing it...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Character, August 3, 2011
By 
P. Opus (Florida, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sky Full of Holes (Audio CD)
Adam Schlesinger, Chris Collingwood & company have always had a sympathetic streak in their songwriting, even when their clever character sketches chronicle the lives of some less than savory personalities. Take for example "Karpet King" from the B-sides collection Out of State Plates, one of my long-time favorite FoW songs. We all know the toupe-wearing salesman hawking his wares and leading a lonely life, but rarely have I heard this type of plight displayed with so much real emotion. It really makes this listener take a second look at the people around me and think about what it feels like to be them. This is the mark of true songwriting talent, and what separates FoW from the pack.

The latest entry in their ongoing discography dials down the womping hooks of their earlier work in favor of a subtler style which concentrates more on the storytelling (in Beatles terms, think "Eleanor Rigby" rather than "I Want to Hold Your Hand"). The character sketches here are often humorous but can also be quite sad or even downright devastating, focusing on the everyday lives of the sorts of people who are just barely hanging on. The one that hit closest to home for me was "Action Hero," the tale of an overstressed middle-aged man who fantasizes about fighting crime and jumping between buildings as his health falls apart. I know this guy, I've worked with him or sat next to him on a plane plenty of times, but never have I heard him described in quite this way. Other songs lighten the mood with biting humor ("Richie and Ruben," another devastating yet much funnier story) or just something fun ("A Dip in the Ocean"). But then we have "I Hate to See You Like This," a rare from-the-heart plea for a friend to overcome depression. I don't think I've ever heard such a direct expression of emotion from this band, and it's a welcome development.

I am sure I'm not the first to say that those looking for another "Stacy's Mom" are going to have to search elsewhere. Those who loved the big hooks but were not so big on the wordplay will probably find this one to be dull and overly muted for their taste. But for those of us who favor FoW's melancholy side, there is plenty here to love. Who knows whether they have made a true stylistic shift or whether this is just another avenue for them to explore, and ultimately it really doesn't matter. What's here is some of the most literary songwriting you're likely to find, and if you spend time with it I believe you will be rewarded. This is the mark of a solid FoW album.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, per usual, August 5, 2011
By 
Phillip S. Blomberg (Portland, OR United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sky Full of Holes (Audio CD)
Initially I was a bit disappointed that FOW abandoned the harder edge of "Traffic and Weather," but after living with it for a few days I realize the brilliance of this approach. The album draws you in deeper than previous records. Repeated listening reveals new highlights every time. These guys are my favorite (still working) band. Freaking brilliant.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leaning Into the Breeze, October 21, 2011
By 
ElvisAteMyDonuts (Southern California) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sky Full of Holes (Audio CD)
Fountains of Wayne amaze yet again with another collection of perfectly crafted songs. They only do this every four years, so there's always a lot of giddy anticipation when a new FoW album arrives. Sky Full of Holes will undoubtedly go down as one of the best albums of 2011 (just like Welcome Interstate Managers was certainly one of the best albums of 2003).

There's not nearly as much crunchy guitar power pop on Sky Full of Holes, but what it lacks in punch, it more than makes up in style. Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood are at the peak of their songwriting skills here, and Jody Porter and Brian Young are as inventive and tight as ever.

Highlight tracks:

Someone's Gonna Break Your Heart is the best song I've heard this year. It's just perfect. The song is lyrically a bit more impressionistic than narrative, but the relentlessly interesting lyrical images are floating around in a huge soaring melody, perfect harmonies, and as is always the case with FoW, a brilliantly constructed instrumental arrangement. From lines that are hilarious, "Fighting off a cold / Murdering a campfire song" to evocative "And the spirit she hides / On a damp path of moss and stone / From a fear we are born with and never outgrow" there's something for everyone (even a sing-along wordless chorus). Thank you Chris!!

A Road Song is a heartfelt musical postcard from a musician on tour who's missing his love back home. As usual, Adam just makes this one look too easy. "I bought you a light blue t shirt last night / From some band I couldn't stand but their logo's alright / Some kid threw a bottle onstage, he had an arm like a pro / I know it's getting late, I guess I should let you go."

A Dip in the Ocean is Chris' fond memory of a Southern California vacation set to a musical hybrid somewhere between '70's Jackson Browne and, well, '00's Fountains of Wayne. "Give us a room with a mountain view / A tiny cabana by the water / Yeah, by the water, and I got a rental for an hour or two for a ride up the coast and a dip in the ocean." Another FoW feel good song that I can't wait to crank up on a blue sky day while driving along Pacific Coast Highway.

Action Hero is a song only Adam could have written. He's got a genius for saying so much with so few words -- it's almost scary. The melody, arrangement and mood of this one couldn't be a more perfect fit to magnify and enhance the lyric. As far as the storyline goes, it's better to just let the song do the talking. Truly brilliant.

I could easily list every song as a highlight track, but without dragging this review out too much longer, it's very safe to say that every song on this album is a gem. If you are a fan of smart songwriting and precise, thoughtful musicianship, Sky Full of Holes is sure to be one of your very favorite picks this year. Enjoy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Songs That Stick With You, October 4, 2011
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This review is from: Sky Full of Holes (Audio CD)
Music reviews are incredibly subjective, but I'll take a shot anyway. This is not the best album ever, but it is the best album of 2011.

If you know anything about Fountains of Wayne, you probably know that they are known for catchy power pop songs with a strong hook. With this set, they have again grabbed onto my gray matter and won't let go. And that's a good thing. But even better, this isn't just summer bubble gum pop. These songs have some depth to them and will leave you thinking. Sure, there's the usual FOW assortment of guys that drink too much and/or fall for the wrong girl, but there's also a hard working middle aged dad hanging onto his "Action Hero" fantasies, a tale of "Cemetery Guns" at a military funeral, and memories of "The Summer Place" that evoke missed youth.

I simply can't imagine anyone not loving this album.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Got the CD *and* the MP3, August 3, 2011
By 
vanishingirl (Northern California) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sky Full of Holes (Audio CD)
I wrote this for the MP3 version and reposting it here:

I've been enjoying "Sky Full of Holes" streaming on their Facebook page over and over for the past week. Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger consistently write songs with tuneful pop melodies, harmonies, and hooks, and with lyrics about middle-class American life full of wit, irony, fun, insight, and empathy. Their albums always seem to reflect their current stage in life, and this is no exception; some of the songs are very straightforward and mature.

I already had pre-ordered the CD version and was going to wait patiently for it to come in the mail, but with Amazon featuring it on release day for only $3.99 (minus $1 credit, making it only $2.99), I could not resist getting it for immediate download. I actually got it for the superb bonus track, a cover of the Moody Blues classic "The Story in Your Eyes." It's beautifully rendered and showcases what terrific musicians FoW are. Thanks, Amazon, for making an offer I couldn't refuse!
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Sky Full of Holes
Sky Full of Holes by Fountains Of Wayne (Audio CD - 2011)
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