Monday, August 1, 2016
Fountains Of Whine?
Since the late 90's, Fountains Of Wayne have been responsible for some incredibly clever and melodic pop music. Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood are smart, both with their words and music. I have been a fan since their 1997 debut, though their last release, "Sky Full Of Holes" missed the mark for me. The storylines and snarky ~wink-wink~ pop culture references in the lyrics seemed to stand out more than the hooks and melodies. What once felt fresh and often hilarious, now felt tired. Maybe the boys thought the same thing and that is why we have "Look Park," a new solo project from Chris Collingwood.
From the opening track, something felt wrong. It wasn't the song itself. Words and music to "Shout Part One" were just fine. It was Collingwood. "Why is he singing like this? I don't like it," I thought to myself. I let it go and continued with the rest of the record. It wasn't going away. Chris Collingwood has suddenly become Rudy Vallee. He is over-enunciating on every song, as if during the time off from Fountains Of Wayne, he took some misguided vocal lessons from a saboteur.
Hear me out.
The songs are fine. Some resembling the power pop of his former band, only less guitar driven. Some, like "Breezy" and "Minor Is The Lonely Key" are terrific, and would not be out of place on a James Taylor record, and I mean that in the best possible way. But those vocals! Is it me? Am I hearing things? The elongated vowels and odd pronunciations are a distraction. I don't recall this on any FOW tune. Was it always there but possibly less noticeable with Schlesinger's additional harmonies?
I am not a fan of Dylan's "Nashville Skyline" voice. I am not of fan of Ray Davies' "Victoria" voice. This new affectation made its way right under my skin.
As I read over what I've written, I realize this is an odd review. As I said, I've been a fan since the beginning and I was looking forward to "Look Park." But damn, what might be a wonderful set of new songs from one of my favorite artists not born in the 40's, has taken a backseat to an unwelcome new vocal style. Maybe I'll get over it, or it will magically either disappear or suddenly not bother me. But please, listen for yourself, especially if you're a fan. I need to know I am not crazy. (Well...crazier.)