Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Fountains of Wayne: Traffic and Weather [Virgin, 2007]
If Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger were mere satirists, they would be They Might Be Giants. Instead they're lyric poets of what a more naive era called yuppieness, only now we know things aren't so simple--even middle-class people who just want to make some dough are in trouble if they were born after, say, 1965. The title newspeople, the lawyer and the photo assistant who beats him for a cab? They're doing OK. But the guy who's accessorizing his "'92 Subaru"? Much less so. "Strapped for Cash"'s gambler anonymous? Not at all. And it's to the band's credit that they want us to know that. But when they home in on the economic, they tend to be satirists only, so it's crucial that as pop adepts who know what closes on Saturday night, they also traffic in romance--and weather it. Sometimes they're hopeless at love, like the lonely antagonists in that cab drama called "Someone to Love"; sometimes, as in the DMV fantasy "Yolanda Hayes," they're delusional in a nice way; sometimes, as in "I-95" and "Fire in the Canyon," they're troubled. So they all need "Michael and Heather at the Baggage Claim," where love triumphs over the geographical displacements that skew so many of these songs. They all also need tunes you'll hum, and get them. A