2004’s Best New Artist Grammy nominees start coasting
If the best parts of FoW breakthrough album Welcome Interstate Managers nodded in a more heartfelt direction, Traffic and Weather (arriving, like most of the band’s records, roughly four years after its predecessor) wipes the smirk right back onto their faces. Still writing songs as if the goal was simply to get from rhyme to rhyme, they remain far too impressed with their own effortful cleverness on songs like the title track and “New Routine.” Worse, with the exception of kicky “Elenor Rigby”/”Girls & Boys” hybrid “Someone to Love” and a pronounced Supertramp influence, the band simply reiterates earlier ideas less interestingly. Flat-out quotes from “Boys,” “Movin’ Out” and even the Golden Girls theme (to say nothing of the inane “Planet Of Weed,” which recasts “Starman” as a stoner ambassador) suggest that Fountains Of Wayne might be running out of steam. We’ll have to wait until 2011 to find out for sure.