License plate sightings break up the monotony of any car ride. It’s not often that you find an Alaskan plate cruising the southern edge of Florida, or how about the rainbow plate of Hawaii heading west on Interstate 70 in Kansas. Granted, it’s a small and somewhat inconsequential note to the ride, and whether we end up pondering where the car is headed or why a state chose a pretty picture or bright color scheme, we almost always take notice because it’s something different; the same can be said for Fountains of Wayne latest release.
The aptly named Out Of State Plates, finds this radio rock foursome mixing up a hodge-podge compilation filled with a few new tunes, b-sides, and covers. Over the last ten years, FOW solidified themselves as a power pop collective conjuring up catchy hooked hits with outrageous themes and melodic riffs. And while this latest project highlights hit maker tunes like “Maureen” and “The Girl I Can’t Forget,” it also shows a more personal and aesthetic infused side to Chris Collinwood and Adam Schlesinger’s writing. Tunes like “I Know You Well” and “Killermont Street” tend to show a softer side to the fast paced feel that has defined their sound. They even throw in some of their standard silliness in the form of California Sex Lawyer, I Want An Alien For Christmas, and The Man In The Santa Suit. At times, it’s tough to get behind the outrageousness of lyrics, but they still keep a strong song structure, solid harmonies, and all of the necessary stylistic elements found in a well written tune.
The disc also delves into some of their more famous covers including a live version of ELO’s “Can’t Get It Out of My Head” and the much talked about, but ever so eerie cover of Britney Spear’s “