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Sky Full of Holes
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They take their time. ''Sky Full of Holes,'' the fifth studio album by Fountains of Wayne, is their first since 2007, and the songs cut back on smirking. The album title comes from a line imagining how a 21-gun salute leaves a ''sky full of holes'' at a military funeral, in a kindly song called ''Cemetery Guns,'' a march accented by snare-drum rolls.
''Action Hero'' starts out describing a Walter Mitty-like family man on an unglamorous dinner out with the kids at ''a small Vietnamese on East 11th Street,'' and the chiming, heroic music sounds like easy irony. Then it turns out the man is getting bad news from his hospital tests, and his fantasies about ''racing against time'' to save the world turn poignant.
There's comedy too. Perpetually deluded hipster entrepreneurs ''Richie and Ruben'' invest in a boutique called Debris that for some reason can't sell a ripped, stained $1,100 T-shirt. In ''Acela,'' a bored guy riding to Boston realizes his girlfriend isn't meeting him on the train after all: ''All alone on the Acela/Tell me baby where the hell are you?'' There's a happier ending in ''Radio Bar''; after hanging out nightly at a bar where he's ''sinking lower and lower,'' the narrator suddenly meets a girl who asks, ''Why don't we go somewhere?'' That must be why there were peppy horns and strings all along.
Fountains of Wayne's music has its heart in the 1970's of the Eagles, Bruce Springsteen, Stealers Wheel and Nick Lowe, full of strummed acoustic and electric guitars, repeated octaves on the piano and wordless vocal-harmony choruses. Mr. Collingwood's nasal lead vocals can't help sounding twerpy and a little sarcastic.
But this album warms up to its characters. In ''Hate to See You Like This,'' which holds some echoes of ''Born to Run,'' the singer tries to revitalize a girl who sounds clinically depressed or worse. And even if Mr. Collingwood and Mr. Schlesinger can't resist a couplet as neat as ''Let's get your phone reconnected/Let's get this room disinfected,'' it also sounds as if they care about the people. --Jon Pareles
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This Album is a must have for F.O.W fans! I absolutely love listening to this Album. I've even learned how to place the first track "The Summer Place" on guitar cause it's... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Matt Helix
Fountains of Wayne have been one of my favorite bands for many years. For those of you who are not familiar with them, I wanted to share why I like them so much. Read morePublished 17 months ago by abunaiyo
This is a really good album.
Fountains of Wayne can do no wrong.
It's a shame that this might be their last album.
I'm a big Fountains of Wayne fan so consider that, but this album has work that ranks up with their best. Isn't it about time for a new effort? Read morePublished 21 months ago by Brian A Stokes
Another stellar offering from FOW. These guys just keep getting better, and their shows are every bit as good as their recordings.Published on March 20, 2014 by Frank Costanzo
Great album, stacks up with all their previous albums. If you enjoy this album check out the album The Past is Dust, Time Sweeps it Away by Lucio Barbarino, another of my... Read morePublished on February 16, 2014 by The Lonesome Dove