Another Pop Winner

Traffic and Weather (Virgin Records)
Fountains of Wayne

By Kory Wilcoxson

Sweep up the confetti and send the losers home. The competition is officially over. With Traffic and Weather, Fountains of Wayne can now be crowned best pop band in America.

If you only know them from "Stacey's Mom," shame on you! Chris Collingswood and Adam Schlesinger have been making catchy, crafty pop for years (if you haven't heard it, treat yourself to "Leave the Biker" from their debut album). With their commercial success a few years ago, Fountains of Wayne began luring in a whole new radio audience looking for something clever and fun whose creator didn't have an "MC" or "DJ" at the front of his name.

Traffic and Weather should seal the deal for all those wondering if Fountains of Wayne could repeat the success of Welcome Interstate Managers. The band has the unmatched ability to put hook-laden music to the most mundane moments of daily life. Why would you want to sing about DMV clerks ("Yolanda Hayes"), truck stops ("I-95") and lost luggage ("Michael and Heather at the Baggage Claim")? Because Fountains of Wayne narrate those stories with an observant eye and power-pop ear.

The first single, "Strapped for Cash," deserves every bit of airplay that "Stacey's Mom" got; in many ways, "Strapped" is a much better song, with its lively horns, fuzzy vocals and Billy Joel homage. In fact, almost all of Traffic represents another step forward for Fountains of Wayne in both songwriting and execution. This isn't just an album, it's a meandering trip through the bric-a-brac of Americana, from '92 Subarus to Costco to "The King of Queens." And it's truly a pleasing journey.

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