DeepToej insists to me that he tried to introduce me to Fountains of Wayne years ago. That may be me true: my memory, however, is silent on this point. (His evidence for this is that he came to visit me & Thers once, I think for one of our retarded road trips to see Guided by Voices (four hours in the car to see them play for 40 minutes at a Spring Fling at Penn State) and that the song in his head the whole time was "Sink to the Bottom." "Cars on the highway, planes in the air/ Everyone else is going somewhere/ I'm going nowhere, and getting there too./ I might as well go under with you.") But I have no recollection of this until they were mentioned to me by another friend scant days before Welcome Interstate Managers was released. I was, if you'll pardon the expression, hooked.
I saw them that summer, must have been 2003, at Metro in Chicago. "Stacy's Mom" was about to break, but had not yet broken, and so the house was packed, but mostly with true believers.
It didn't take long to acquire the back catalog of FOW: prolific they're not. But the discs are worth it. The acerbic social commentary of, say, "Leave the Biker" or "Bright Future in Sales" is ironic, yet oddly affectionate. You know these people, or at least I do.
The new CD, Out-of-State Plates, is mostly b-sides and outtakes, many of which I already had. But there are also a few new songs, characteristically sharp and catchy. My favorite is the 'like a brother' lament of "Maureen."
She calls me up at ten past midnight.
She and some guy just had some big fight.
And I say, 'Well, maybe he's just not all that bright.'
She tells me it's not his brain that she likes.
I have a friend who went to Williams with Collingwood and Schlesinger. He said he knew them vaguely, but that they "existed on an entirely different plane of cool" than he did. I'm not wholly sure I believe that: FOW songs seem to me to have the sympathy for the outcast which bespeaks more than a little of the geek. And I mean that in the best way possible.
In any case, if all you know is "Stacy's Mom," dig a little, because they're definitely worth it.