Fountains of Wayne - Welcome Interstate Managers (Cover Artwork)

Fountains of Wayne

Welcome Interstate Managers (2003)


"Welcome Interstate Managers" by Fountains of Wayne is a flat-out stunner.

Surprised? You shouldn't be. The most fun band of the past decade behind "That Thing You Do", the theme to Crank Yankers and the MTV smashes "Radiation Vibe" and "Sink to the Bottom" is back with a full arsenal of 16 power-pop songs loaded with hooks and sing-along choruses. For the third straight album.

Think of a mixture of Weezer, the Rentals, Ozma, Big Star and Superdrag – extract all the best parts and you have this indie sensation from New Jersey.

There is no ground on "Welcome Interstate Managers" that has not been tread before but no band does it as well as Fountains of Wayne.

The album starts of with the song "Mexican Wine", one that I had heard many times before. This proves to be an excellent opening track, as it sets the tone for the remainder of the album – more upbeat than "Utopia Parkway" but more polished than the self-titled.

It segues into "Bright Future in Sales" a cheery little number with a chorus that will repeat in your mind for hours after listening to it. Next is the current single "Stacy's Mom" with the lyrics "I know it might be wrong but I'm in love with Stacy's mom." Predictably, that is what the song is about. Silly, yes – but still great fun. However, it is most likely one of the weakest tracks on the album.

"Hackensack" is the fourth song and is much slower than the previous three. It sounds similar and is on the same musical level as "Hat and Feet" on "Utopia Parkway". Nice background vocals, another FoW trademark, mark "No Better Place" but the song is not as memorable as the first three. "Valley Winter Song" is very reminiscent of one penned by Simon and Garfunkel in their best moments and led me to wonder why I was sending this review for a punk site. The chorus of this song is the best moment.

"All Kinds of Time" features James Iha of former Smashing Pumpkins fame. Very reminiscent of "Troubled Times" from the last album, it provides yet another slower song. (And being that "Troubled Times" was the best song on "Utopia Parkway", this is a good thing.) The electric guitars return for "Little Red Light" and to some relief, so does a faster pace. What follows is not the greatest Fountains of Wayne song, but one that follows the formula of the lesser ones from the previous album.

"Hey Julie" is simply a great song. A straightforward love song with good lyrics that moves along briskly, it is definitely a highlight. "Halley's Waitress" follows. Good song and again, laid-back but captivating. Is "Hung Up on You" country? Yes. Well – it's still very well done but admittedly not as fun as "Tonight I'll Take What I Can Get", a similar "joke" song by Dashboard Confessional.

The final five songs sound like – well, Fountains of Wayne -- and in the interest of time – I think you get the idea.

If you want a difficult and almost perplexing album to purchase on June 10th, by all means buy Radiohead's "Hail to the Thief". (It's terrific after about two months of listening like many of their albums). If you like a side of fun with your critically acclaimed album, however, take "Welcome Interstate Managers". Providing you like Fountains of Wayne or 60s-70s style power-pop, you will not be disappointed.