Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Fountains of Wayne

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Fountains of Wayne front man Adam Schlesinger is as skilled a pop formalist as they come, as evidenced by his Oscar-nominated title track for That Thing You Do! and more recently the spot-on faux-80s new-wave material he wrote for Music and Lyrics. But his facility with genre can also be a liability in his own band's music, at times crossing the line between formalistic and formulaic. The band clearly hit it out of the park with "Stacy's Mom," from 2003's Welcome Interstate Managers, showing that the Fountains can indeed transcend their sometimes too-evenhanded songwriting to deliver a bluntly enjoyable radio confection. The new Traffic and Weather (Virgin) is just as solid as its predecessor and gets more likable with each listen. "Strapped for Cash," with its whooshing chorus and soaring horns, is the album's best shot at the singles charts, but there's plenty else to like, including the sweet country rock of "Fire in the Canyon," the updated car-love ode "'92 Subaru," and the clever wordplay and vivid characters in "Someone to Love." Office opens. a 10 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $25. --J. Niimi

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