Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2011-08-19


Fountains of Wayne: Fountains of Wayne (Atlantic, 1996) Given that one of the two songwriters who constitute this theoretical band is also their drummer, they're pretty Apollonian. And maybe that's why. Lulled into a formalistic revery by their catchy choruses, you assume their content is as null as their groove. But in fact they're so girl-shy it's thematic, and refreshingly empathetic about women with problems, including the one who needs a sick day. In the closing sequence they ask her to leave the biker; warn him* not to curse at the fairer sex; hope she doesn't rock them tonight; and quietly conclude that for all their efforts "Everything's Ruined." (*Not the biker--for that they don't have the balls.) A-

Fountains of Wayne: Utopia Parkway (Atlantic, 1999) Utopia Parkway, I happen to recall, traverses the Manhattan-side portion of Bayside a/k/a Clearview in Queens. Need I add that the view there is no more clear than the parkway is utopian? So while in a sense they've moved on to their suburban album, it ain't really the suburbs. Even "Troubled Times" is a relationship song, albeit a mature one, as for that matter is "Prom Theme," which is really about the last day of your life. The "Go, Hippie"-"A Fine Day for a Parade"-"Amity Gardens" triptych, on the other hand, are kind of suburban. They're also why I've spent my post-prom years in neither Queens nor Wayne. A-

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