Fountains of Wayne, the power pop quartet from New Jersey that crossed a new fame threshold last year with the success of “Stacy’s Mom,” has scrounged up B sides, unreleased tracks, covers and added two new tunes for its latest collection, “Out of State Plates.” The concept is sprawling yet it holds together remarkably well, testimony to Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger’s tasteful use of hooks and intelligent, clever lyrics; highlight on the disc, and in a rare intimate perf, was the new tune “Maureen” that FoW has been hocking on the gabfest circuit.
Fountains of Wayne has 10 years of sturdy, not quite fashionable music-making behind them — bandmembers are a modern-day version of the Kinks. Their extensive bag of tricks includes little riffs from the Beatles’ psychedelic era, the Cars and a fine filter of early ’70s rock, all of which was amplified and striking in the cozy confines of Largo. Lead singer Collingwood, however, stuck to the acoustic guitar, which revealed his own aptitude for the rhythmic structures of Jackson Browne and Bob Dylan; the elements of each piece were on far greater display than they would be were it a formal show at a theater and for the most part it all jelled.
“Stacy’s Mom” was still just as catchy, as were their earlier choice tracks “Radiation Vibe” and “Red Dragon Tattoo.” Seven of the performed tunes appear on the new collection, including the goofy yet charming “Janice’s Party,” the curious “Half a Woman,” and the covers of ELO’s “Can’t Get It out of My Head” and the Bacharach-David classic “Trains and Boats and Planes,” both of which were delivered record perfect. (Band also dipped into Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” and Golden Earring’s “Twilight Zone” within “Radiation Vibe,” which ultimately emerges as the best of the three.)
Few one-hit wonders even approach the quality of the Fountains of Wayne catalog, which is marked by cleverly worded tales of ambition and suburban wanting, peppered with a timeless rock ‘n’ roll sound. Few bands ever make hits out of remnant collections and no one at Virgin is expecting the disc to match the 410,000 that last year’s “Welcome Interstate Managers” has sold. With “Maureen,” however, the Fountains proved repeat visits can be made to the same well provided you reach deep enough.