Fountains of Wayne songwriters Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger are masters at peppering their songs with all sorts of slice-of-life details, and on Sky Full of Holes, the duo is sharper than ever at using those mundane observations to draw out a gallery full of familiar emotions.
Fountains of Wayne's fifth album opens with the line: "She's been afraid of the Cuisinart since 1977," just one of those off-center details that Collingwood and Schlesinger employ to heighten the impact of the more-subtle revelations about the parade of dissatisfied characters that make up Sky Full of Holes' 13 songs.
The band's surging power pop and mid-tempo acoustic rock again exaggerate every hook, but it's the honesty and realism in the lyrics that stand out here, often replacing the more wry observations and winking humor of songs like the hit "Stacy's Mom."
The album is about lives that somehow got off track—people overtaken by self-destructive impulses, hubris and selfishness, and often left with a pressing uneasiness with how things unfolded. In "The Summer Place," a woman's memories of her teenage outbursts of theft and drugs seem to win out over her boring adult existence.
Fountains of Wayne's underlying message here may be that life is a struggle, but it's the clever framework that the band uses to deliver the message that's the album's real takeaway. When people are yearning for things to be better, a quirky rhyme and a catchy chorus can go a long way.Published Sept. 1, 2011 in the Tucson Weekly.