Fountains of Wayne are still one of the best pop bands ever. Just because we live in a video-driven age where a band has to be either as ugly as a mud fence (Marilyn Manson) or look like some kind of beer commercial wet dream (pick a twee girl singer) doesn’t mean that there aren’t people making fantastic music with great lyrics.
FOW turn out perfect polished gems of pop songwriting, expanding slightly upon the field of inquiry pioneered by the Beatles and refined by bands like Big Star, Elvis Costello and the Replacements. Their sheer skill and competency at crafting pop songs is what makes The Fountains of Wayne Hotline funny. As explained by the artist behind the Hotline:
“Fountains of Wayne Hotline” originated as a travel game in our van. “Welcome Interstate Managers” had just come out, and I guess it was the band’s super-competency and amazing consistency that made me imagine them as operators of a crisis hotline for songwriters. In our game one of us would place an emergency call for counseling, and a member of a large bureaucratic labyrinth, usually harried and gruff, would offer a solution based on time-honored Fountains of Wayne techniques. Grant, our guitarist, excelled at the mean-spirited drones, and occasionally a different kind of Hotline character would pop up, like one of the perky-beyond-all-reason types that were drummer Gerald’s specialty. Just another of those things that turns grimly incomprehensible in the telling…but, for whatever reason, it was amusing enough that I codified it as a song a little while later.
If this results in even more exposure for the Fountains of Wayne, then that’s a Very Good Thing.