Bruce Springsteen may own the Jersey Shore, but Fountains of Wayne have the Oranges and the Caldwells, and of course, Wayne (their name comes from a garden statuary store there). With apologies to those who don't know the Garden State very well, those are cities that are a hop, skip, and a train ride from New York City. Just as Bruce has his mythology with characters, cars, and places (Fast Eddie, pink Cadillac, the boardwalk), FOW's main writers Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood have theirs.
On their fourth album, the characters include "Yolanda Hayes," a pretty DMV employee with a hard-shell and a soft center, the party girl "Revolving Dora," and "Michael and Heather," a suburban couple who've had a long day of hurry up and wait at the airport (Newark, presumably). There are also shout-outs to real life characters like the Tri-State newscasters Sue Simmons and Chuck Scarborough on "Traffic and Weather." The car is the unglamorous baby blue "'92 Subaru," which Collingwood transforms into his studly lovemobile. The places are the interstate truck stops on "I-95" and the diner on "New Routine."
This last song is an especially imaginative piece of writing, detailing a game of wanderlust tag, with two old men, a restless waitress, a German businessman, and a hotel manager, all looking to shake up the dull routines of their lives.
To match their lyrical cleverness and insight, Fountains of Wayne once again display an inexhaustible supply of zig-zagging hooks and melodies. While there may not be a "Stacy's Mom" breakout hit here, this is another solid, lovable album from the band that's keeping smart pop alive for those of us who aren't quite ready to buy a Fall Out Boy record.