Known for crafting some of the most memorable pop ditties in recent memory, Fountains of Wayne returns after a four-year absence with its strongest effort to date. Welcome Interstate Managers
kicks off with a string of whip-smart songs that playfully explore the existential despair of Jane and Joe Average. "Stacy's Mom" is a hummable ode to MILF lust, and its Rachel Hunter-starring video has been welcomed with open arms by MTV -- making the Wayne boys unlikely poster adults for the TRL
On occasion, Fountains of Wayne lets its Beatles' influences run rampant, resulting in ponderous ballads that split the icky difference between Billy Joel and Ben Folds. Furthermore, frontmen Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood lack passion, sapping the disc of vitality and much-needed personality. But the best songs assume a personality of their own, and Managers provides an effervescent romp through the working-week freak show.