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Near-perfect pop

Traffic and Weather
Traffic and Weather
By Fountains of Wayne

Virgin Records: 2007

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This review first appeared in Turbula in May 2007.

So get this: Fountains of Wayne is getting harped on by bloggers and the national press because the new album is too much like the band's first three albums. It makes you wonder if even the Beatles would have escaped unscathed in the age of the Internet.

Not that Fountains of Wayne are going to go broke because some critics don't like "Traffic and Weather." Most likely, the band's members will be laughing all the way to the bank.

Succulent melodies, gorgeous harmonies and a big, fat sound make the new album almost impossible not to listen to.

Which, yeah, is pretty much like the previous three outings. Songwriters and band members Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger have yet to prove themselves as prolific as previous pop songwriting teams like Difford and Tilbrook, Ashford and Simpson or Dan Penn-Spooner Oldham, but "Yolanda Hayes" is as perfect a song as any written by the above legendary teams.

As with the Beatles, Squeeze or Crowded House, it's hard to separate the songwriting from the performance. Fountains of Wayne has a definitive sound – thick, swirling rhythms behind jangly guitars and percussive keyboards, all overlaid with rich vocal harmonies – that is as much a part of the charm of the 14 songs here as the actual compositions themselves. Realistically, how many bands could make the following lyrics (from the opening track, "Someone to Love") sound poetic:

Seth Shapiro got his law degree
He moved to Brooklyn from Schenectady
Got some client in the foot industry
He says it's not the money it's the recipes

They make the above sound poetic and lovely and ever so much more on "Traffic and Weather," offering a memorable argument that this is indeed the best pop band going today.