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Utopia Parkway

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Album Review

There's no denying that Fountains of Wayne know how to craft a great pop record. They know how to write a hook, they can pull of mild rockers and sweet ballads with equal aplomb, and they write melodies that feel like half-forgotten favorites. They have all the elements of a classic power pop band but they suffer from that peculiar '90s ailment — detachment. For all their flair, talent, and craftsmanship, the band don't really dig deeper than the surface. Of course, that doesn't mean they make bad records, and their second album, Utopia Parkway, is, if anything, every bit as good as their fine debut. All the songs immediately make a connection and all of their melodic attributes simply strengthen with repeated listens. However, those repeated listens reveal that Fountains of Wayne don't have a lot to say. That's not a cardinal sin in guitar pop, since most bands simply recycle the same lovelorn themes, but Fountains choose to have fun with clichés, throwing in goofy asides even in their ballads. Throughout the record, they seem like the well-read, pop culture-saturated kids who sat in the back of the classroom, cracking jokes that only they can understand. Depending on your view, this either enhances the fun or keeps the record at a distance, because if you don't share their disdain for hippies, laser shows, proms, malls, and bikers, it will be a little hard to sing along with those glorious melodies. For some, this may be a minor point, but consider this: emotional depth is what lifted Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend to classic status and what keeps Utopia Parkway from truly soaring, despite its many virtues.

Customer Reviews

Stellar Performance by FOW

The main reviewer here seems to think that this is the music equivalent to Revenge Of The Nerds?No,it's not quite as good as their debut recording,but then,there is very little out there that is.Lots of great tunes,and a couple that are only average,but absolutely no dogs here!A few samples:"Red Dragon Tattoo",my personal favorite,mocks out the whole"body art"culture with hilarious lyrics."A Fine Day For A Parade"is a quiet ballad,FOW's answer to "Don't Worry,Be Happy.""It Must Be Summer" is an infectious,catchy,feel-good number."Valley Of Malls" takes us on a journey thru suburbia with a nice guitar hook."Troubled Times" is about relationship problems,replete with a bridge and chorus that really stays with you afterwards.All in all,a quality effort by the best power pop band around!


i maybe comfused by the review above but this is fow first one, and my nostalgic favorite valley winter song is still my favorite song, it killed me when they used it for a comercial, well since radio only plays staci's mom i guess they have to do what they can, not that i would turn the money down either. anyway this is a good one, if you havent lisened much to fow give em try they are great for a sunny afternoon cleaning your house, keeps you in a good mood. great stuff

'Utopia' is Rather Accurate

I myself am a musician, and I must say that these guys have really influenced me, this album is a great record that is seconded only by there follow-up to it 'Welcome Interstate Managers'. Now, this album isn't 100% perfect, the last few songs drag on a bit but that might just be due to a mistake in track placement, either way some songs certainly are better than others. Having that said, the first half or more of the album is solid, it has really well written everything. So my reccomendation is to buy this right away, if you must get only one song however, do get either Amity Gardens (Very catchy song, nice lyrics) or Hat and Feet (If TMBG and JoCO had a baby, it would've written this).


Formed: 1996 in Northampton, MA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Although Fountains of Wayne didn't enjoy mainstream attention until the release of "Stacy's Mom" in 2003, the band had already established itself as one of America's strongest power pop acts. Based in New Jersey, the group first appeared in 1996 with a mix of British-influenced pop songs, lo-fi production, and wry lyrics about dead-end jobs and biker boyfriends. Fountains of Wayne expanded their lineup and polished up their sound during the following years, eventually hitting gold with 2003's Welcome...
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