There’s something both comforting and frustrating in that it takes four years for Fountains Of Wayne to release a new album. On the one hand, you do miss those good old days of artistic, creative search that resulted in huge, adventurous discographies cluttered with numerous detours, failures, triumphs; on the other hand, it’s good to know that here’s a band that will deliver. That all the filler was binned (a case well proven by their patchy odds-and-ends compilation Out-Of-State Plates) and that what was left is a reliable collection of thoughtful, intelligent power pop tunes with quality hooks and summery vibes.
Sky Full Of Holes is, and one should have expected as much, a conservative paradise. Just what the fans needed. There’s not a second on the whole LP that will make you scratch your head or raise your eyebrows in disbelief. But equally it won’t make you regret your naïve admiration or wish Sky Full Of Holes sounded any different – because their tasteful, Beatlesque melodies and their gentle, non-threatening take on the power pop swagger of Cheap Trick are as good as ever. Big on lush, juicy guitars and catchy, sugary (though never excessively so) choruses, the album is more or less evenly split between ballads and rockier, slightly harder edged numbers. Mentioning specific tracks would be pointless, but I would just say that ‘The Summer Place’, the album’s glorious opener, would be a worthy addition to your imaginary Fountains Of Wayne best-of. And it’s all good – as long as you are okay with taking consistency over diversity.
In the end, Sky Full Of Holes does lack the urgency of the band’s classic debut; and nor does it possess the subtlety of Big Star. But the moment you want to accuse Fountains Of Wayne of complacency or fear of making a mistake, a track like ‘Someone’s Gonna Break Your Heart’ enters your speakers. Its intro sounds just like the one from ‘I’ve Got A Flair’ off their 1996 debut. And, engulfed by a sudden feeling of nostalgia, you almost wish this song to be ‘I’ve Got A Flair’. But – no, it then breaks into a completely different tune… And somehow the rush of joyful, heady excitement is all new, fresh, and maybe just as unforgettable.
Released on July 20th 2011 by Lojinx