Plenty of bubbly pop from Fountains of Wayne
If technology is actually making us more isolated, as we peck away at our computers and enjoy our own private iPod concerts, some artists are still interested in what ties us together and the abiding desire to make a connection beyond IM exchanges.
Sunday night at the Paradise, Fountains of Wayne offered up their detailed narratives of lonely hearts and long-distance lovers, malcontents and loving couples , and even gamblers and leg - breakers. Yearning was a constant undercurrent but the bright and bouncy instrumentation and sharp humor served as rays of pure pop hope for both the stars of the vignettes and the sold-out crowd who no doubt see themselves in some of the songs.
A near-hour wait between sets threatened to disperse the good will wrought by the similarly tuneful if more subdued openers Robbers on High Street -- FOW must've missed sound check since the crowd had to endure the interminable testing of drums, microphones, and guitars -- but once the quartet, plus an auxiliary keyboardist, bounded onstage and cranked up the dreamy guitar charge of "No Better Place," all was forgiven.
Ladies figured prominently in the 70-minute set, which included a handful of tunes from the band's superb new album "Traffic and Weather."
The romantic predilections of "Denise" were contemplated in a frenzy of jagged new-wave guitar riffs and pleading backing vocals. Good-naturedly trying to coax a smile out of wilted DMV clerk "Yolanda Hayes" elicited grins from the audience thanks to a sprightly piano line, a classic Brit-pop strutting backbeat and the swoon-worthy harmonies of singer-guitarist Chris Collingwood and bassist Adam Schlesinger. Counting down the hours to seeing your baby never sounded so good thanks to the mini-percussion symphony bolstering the Simon and Garfunkel-style acoustic folk pop of "Hey Julie." And, of course, "Stacy's Mom" got the lascivious once over.
The best of the new included the melancholy country shuffle "Fire in the Canyon," whose main characters are being driven apart even as they drive cross country together. Current single "Someone to Love" also hit the sweet spot as its propulsive disco thump both countered and underscored the desperate loneliness of the pair of singletons it observes.
Perhaps what those two need to do is get together and go to a Fountains of Wayne concert, where, Sunday night at least, the match of irresistible melodies and a buoyant atmosphere made a romantic match seem possible.