Release Date: June 10, 2003
Reviewed by Rob Brode
When does simplicity become quite complex? Whenever Fountains of Wayne releases a new album. Welcome Interstate Managers is the latest offering from the creative genius of Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood. These names probably don’t ring anyone’s bell but Schlesinger did pen the innocuously mesmeric theme for the movie That Thing You Do. Clearly we are dealing with two men who have the capability to make you sing along at will and later beg to have their songs removed from your head because they’ve been stuck their longer than a watermelon jolly rancher sticks to the underside of your molars.
Welcome quite honestly is a near perfect pop record. Fountains find a way to take the mundane and polish it into pop gems. “Hailey’s Waitress” speaks of a man waiting for the waitress to return with his cup of coffee, “And when she finally appears it’s like she’s been away for years/Darling don’t you know we miss you when you’re gone”. Sung with a Bee Gee’s like falsetto over some instantly identifiable disco-fied chick-a-chick-a wah, a phantom cup of coffee sounds like the holly grail. The album runs through the monotony of the 9-5 life on the ingenious “Bright Future In Sales” (I had a line on a brand new account/but I can’t seem to find where I wrote that number down/I try to focus, staring at the screen/pretending I know what all these little flashing lights mean”.) and “Hey Julie”.
The album spins yarns of love lost on “Little Red Light” and “Hackensack” and an ode to another’s mother on “Stacy’s Mom”, with the soon to be classic line “Ever since your Dad walked out/Your Mom could use a man like me”. Welcome Interstate Managers is a flawless exercise in pop song writing, good to the point of being scary. If two men can write an insanely catchy pop tune about what goes through a quarterback’s head as the clock winds down, “All Kinds of Time”, there is probably little they can’t do.