Look Park

Look Park – Look Park (Yep Roc)

It  was  through asking a record shop assistant what  was currently playing in the store as I was browsing that I  first  came across Fountains of Wayne.  The track was ‘All Kinds of Time’ from 2003’s Welcome Interstate Managers,  which  I  immediately bought on the strength of this first listen.  This album would go on to soundtrack  my  first  year  at   university, and indeed would propel the band to international status  largely on the back of the album’s standout slice of power-pop perfection  ‘Stacy’s  Mom’, which  charted in fifty bazillion countries.

The  world  has  changed  somewhat  in  the  intervening  years.   For  one,  the  days  of  discovering  music  by  such  archaic methods  may  well  be  a thing  of  the  past,  with  apps  like  Shazam  making  all  music  instantly available  at  the  click  of  a  button.  So  does  Fountains  lead  singer  and  co-songwriter,   Chris  Collingwood,  still  have  something  to  say in this changed cultural climate?   As  much  as  it  grieves  a  long-time FoW fan to say so, the answer is, sadly,  no.

Look  Park  opens  optimistically  with  ‘Shout  Out  Pt  1′,  which  gives  the  impression  that  we  might  be  in  for  something  special.   However,  after  a  few  listens  it’s  clear  we’re  onto  a  dud  rather  than  a  doozy.   The album  is similar in many ways to  Sky  Full  of  Holes,  FoW’s  last  offering,  although  it  lacks  even  the  melodic  sparkle  of  that  album  (which  was  far  from  their  best),  with  songs  like  ‘Stars  of  New  York’  failing to rise to the heights of tracks such as ‘Richie  and  Ruben’  or ‘A Road Song.’

Whereas  FoW  at  their  peak  were  able  to  pen  tunes  such  as  ‘Valley  Winter  Song’  and  ‘Sink  to  the  Bottom,’ which  combined  the  unthinking  rush  of  joyous  pop-rock  with  lyrics  that  were  marked  by  a  wry intelligence and  full  of  cultural  references,  both  attributes  are  conspicuous  by  their  absence  from  Collingwood’s  first  solo  effort.

Songs  such  as  ‘Breezy,’  ‘Airplane’  and  ‘You Can Come Round If You Want To’  are  all  passable  in  and  of  themselves,  but  there  is  absolutely  nothing  on  this  album  to  compare  with  the  short  sharp  shock  of  early singles  like  ‘Radiation  Vibe,’  or  even  lesser  recent  attempts  for  that  matter.  ‘Get  on  Home’  closes  the  album  and  it  would  be  good  if  Collingwood  would  do  just  that  and  go  back  to  the  drawing  board  for  the next  Look  Park  release.

Producer  Mitchell  Froom  lends  the  album  the same crystal  clear  production  he  has  served  up  in  the  past  for  artists  such  as  Crowded  House  and  Elvis  Costello,  and  Davey  Faragher  and  Smash  Mouth’s  Michael  Urbano  lay  down  an  impressive  rhythm  section  for  Collingwood  to  work  with.  But,  ultimately,  this  is  not  enough  to  compensate  for  the  record’s  fundamental  flaw  –  a  total  lack  of  tunes  – and  the record  is  a  disappointment.  None  of  the  tracks  really  deserve  a  mention  expect  ‘Crash  That  Piano’  which  is  so  bad.  It’s  dreary  and  frustrates  this reviewer  no  end  as  I’m  such  a  big  Fountains  of  Wayne  fan.  Wait  until  Collingwood  is  back  writing  songs  with  Adam  Schlesinger  from  Fountains  of  Wayne  rather  than  pinning  your  hopes  on  this  being  a  decent  release.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.