Pop Perfection

Welcome Interstate Managers (S-Curve)
Fountains of Wayne

By Kory Wilcoxson

You can put on your trucker hat or pierce your nose or wear a big-ass belt buckle and spurs, but when you strip down any music fan to their essence, we all are suckers for sing-along pop. Who doesn't sing when we hear "Eight Days a Week" or "My Best Friend's Girlfriend"? Come on, put your hand up, you know you do.

Fountains of Wayne are now seasoned experts at tapping into that soft spot. On its third album, the band continues to hone its ability to write catchy songs that not only sound good, but also have some personality to them. Band members Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger take the most mundane or obscure subjects - an inattentive waitress, a quarterback dropping back to pass - and craft saccharine-sweet tunes that are three minutes of euphoria.

The first single is a perfect example. "Stacy's Mom" is an ode to a teenager's obsession with an older woman and I guarantee within two listens you'll be rocking the suburbs singing, "Stacy's mom has got it going on." It's the perfect summer hit: hip, catchy and instantly familiar, all three of which characterize most of FoW's songs.

Managers doesn't miss a step on any of its 16 tracks. "Bright Future in Sales" has the same hit potential as "Stacy's Mom," and rocks even harder. "Hung Up on You" is a country spin-off that deserves a spot on a Heidi Howe album for its balance of parody and sincerity ("Ever since you hung up on me/I'm hung up on you"). "Peace and Love" is a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the hippie culture.

FoW can also slow things down a bit without losing its wit or its creativity. "Fire Island" is a slow burner that details a teenage free-for-all while the parents are away. "Hackensack" is full of the pitiful longing of a loser who pines for a former local girl who's made it big: "I saw you talkin' to Christopher Walken...and if you ever get back to Hackensack, I'll be here for you."

Managers is a pure delight that should come with a warning: You'll be hard pressed to stop listening to it. And when you do, the choruses will stay with you, just the way a good pop song should.