Fountains of Wayne

Traffic and Weather (Virgin)

Phases & Stages

Fountains of Wayne

Traffic and Weather (Virgin)

In anticipation of hurricane season, Fountains of Wayne proffers an uncommonly strong batch of shiny red pop songs as a salve for hot afternoon commutes with no air conditioning. Although their strivings toward pop-cultural zeitgeist seem quaint in an age of fragmentation, you have to admire Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger for their everyman voices and cheeky middlebrow wit. As its drive-time-inspired title suggests, Traffic and Weather concentrates on life and love in the ever-moving workaday world. "Someone to Love" offers a bouncy message of hope for deadheading white-collar careerists, while "Yolanda Hayes" uses horn-laden Britpop to reveal the colorful soul within a DMV bureaucrat. The Jersey quartet lets its classic rock fantasies run wild on "'92 Subaru" before channeling Tom T. Hall on "I-95," an evocative road ballad peppered with fading radio signals and truck-stop kitsch. Front to back, this 14-song slice of bop-worthy Americana hits the spot like hamburgers and coffee.

***.5

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