Fountains of Wayne, Utopia Parkway

by Sarah Zupko

 

If Juilliard were to offer a course on composing the perfect pop melody, Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood should be the first folks they call for instructors. Even more pop than their debut (if that’s possible), Utopia Parkway is chock full of the sort of guilty pleasures we used to derive from AM radio as kids. But there’s a catch—Schlesinger and Collingwood write great lyrics as well. Hilarious lyrics in fact, so clever, they verge on being the 90s equivalent of Noel Coward—oh no, that would be Neil Hannon (Divine Comedy). “Denise” is a prime example, with a witty line like “She drives a lavender Lexus/She lives in Queens, but her Dad lives in Texas.” Combine that lyric strength with lovable synthesizer bits and crunchy chords ala The Cars, hooks galore, and it makes for a joyful ride.

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