Release Date: 04.06.99
Record label: atlantic
What a Fine Day for a Parade
by: michael karpinski
Just as there are times when nothing so soothes the soul as a sackful of bite-sized sliders, there are instances when nothing so charms the heart as 14 delectably unpretentious patties of perfect pop.
Suddenly overcome by the munchies? In desperate need of some grease? Then please pull up to the second window: Fountains of Wayne will be happy to serve you.
Utopia Parkway soundly surpasses the New York City-based collective's pleasant but unassuming self-titled 1996 debut (and its toe-tapping, MTV Buzz Bin single "Radiation Vibe"). This time out, the training wheels are off; the Huffy's been upgraded to a Harley. Evident again are principal band members Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood's passion for '60s Britpop and '70s power pop (the Zombies-evocative "Valley of Malls," the Herman's Hermits-charming "Fine Day For a Parade," and "Laser Show," which suggests the Bay City Rollers meeting the Beatles by way of the Beach Boys).
In a more contemporary context, "Go, Hippie" alternately shimmers and swaggers like grade-A Oasis, and the crack-hooky "Denise" blows away Blur. Finally, there's the pristine "Prom Theme" - a syrupy-stringed camp ballad guaranteed to induce bittersweet, corsage-on-crinoline memories in former teenaged deities and dweebs alike.
If what you seek in your music is metaphysical depth and philosophical wisdom, then Utopia Parkway is clearly not your street. But if you're simply searching for the perfect sonic complement to that late-night cruise through the Jack in the Box drive-thru, then this is your baby. With or without fries.