On the Record: “Sky Full of Holes” by Fountains of Wayne
September 8, 2011
Believe it or not, Fountains of Wayne has put out two albums since 2003 when they released their one-hit wonder “Stacy’s Mom,” a peppy upbeat track voicing the struggles of a young boy lusting after his own Mrs. Robinson. Their most recent release may not have the same instant appeal, but “Sky Full of Holes” still has the clever lyrics and catchy cords that put Fountains of Wayne on the Billboard charts years ago while exposing a darker and more adult side of the band.
The album starts out strong, opening with the pop tune “The Summer Place,” guaranteed to get stuck in your head immediately. The lyrics show the band’s evolution, as they no longer tell stories of teenage angst but instead follow one of a washed out middle-aged woman reliving her past after visiting her family’s vacation home. “Richie and Ruben” comes next, another memorable, upbeat song making light of two adults just trying to get by in life without any idea of what they’re doing.
These two standout openers are followed by “Acela” and “Someone’s Gonna Break Your Heart,” both of which continue the folksy, cheerful sound. “Action Hero” takes a turn, instantly a much more tranquil and melancholy track than those before. In the song, a man is surrounded by his family at a restaurant, and as the typical chaos of any family dinner ensues around him he is hit by the realization that his life is passing before him and he is running out of time.
The strongest track on the entire album is easily “A Dip in the Ocean.” If the choppy guitar riffs don’t make you happy instantly, the thoughts of swimming in the ocean and playing on the beach, the lyrics will do the trick.
The next songs are the low point and the album begins to drag on with one soft semi-acoustic ballad after another. Not one is particularly special, and the urge to skip through all of them is hard to resist. Not until the fast-paced “Radio Bar” does the album begin to seem like the happy, catchy one it appears to be during the first few tracks.
The closing song is quick and full of drums and crooning vocals. “Cemetery Guns” combines the best elements of all the songs before it to provide a perfect blend of melancholy and pop which brings the album to an end.
Every song on “Sky Full of Holes” has its share of clever lines and jokes, all of which seem to make fun of the struggles of life as a middle-aged, middle-class American. The middle section loses its charm quickly, but the beginning and end provide enough support to make the album an overall success.
If nothing else, “Sky Full of Holes” shows that Fountains of Wayne is certainly not the group of little boys that it used to be.