But, oh, what a beginning! The first six tracks (‘Mexican Wine,’ ‘Bright Future in Sales,’ ‘Stacy’s Mom,’ ‘Hackensack,’ ‘No Better Place’ and ‘Valley Winter Song’) make up one of the greatest runs I’ve ever heard. Smart, hooky power pop peppered with a couple of melancholy ballads, that stretch is a display of pure songwriting genius by Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger.
Of all the recent deaths of musical artists, through coronavirus or otherwise, the one that hit me hardest was the loss of Adam Schlesinger. The former Fountains of Wayne bassist/songwriter died at just 52 years old due to complications from COVID-19.
I’ve been a big Fountains of Wayne fan since I first heard their album Utopia Parkway back in 1999. 2003’s Welcome Interstate Managers is one of the best pop albums ever recorded. Schlesinger, along with co-writer/lead singer Chris Collingwood, crafted note-perfect, clever, alternately funny and poignant tunes about everyday life. If you aren’t familiar with FOW, now’s a perfect time to get started.
This is a great album to give anyone looking for an introduction to the band. From great power pop (‘Stacy’s Mom,’ ‘Bright Future in Sales,’ today’s SOTD) to beautiful acoustic tracks (‘Hackensack,’ ‘Valley Winter Song’) to charming love songs (‘Hey Julie’), this album serves up a little bit of everything.
My final one-hit wonder is a painful choice. I adore so much of Fountains of Wayne’s music that I hate to think of them being relegated to the dustbin of history, remembered for their only hit song, ‘Stacy’s Mom.’
And here’s the real kick in the pants: ‘Stacy’s Mom’ wasn’t even that big of a hit. It peaked at #21 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached #3 on the Pop chart. Nothing else the band released ever came close to chart success.
Fountains of Wayne followed up the success of its 2003 album Welcome Interstate Managers, and surprise hit single ‘Stacy’s Mom,’ with a double album called Out-of-State Plates, filled with odds and ends they’d amassed over their career to that point.
Albums like this are usually quick cash grabs or contract fillers, and this one is no exception. It is entirely unremarkable, featuring songs that were B-sides for good reasons.