Chasing past glories is an exhausting pursuit, so we'll forgive remaining original members Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant for failing to surpass their '80s high point since reuniting in 1997. Subsequent albums have brushed against their old gloomy, bristling post-punk, but their latest shelves the darker edges in favor of full-on pop embrace. The album's slick sheen arrives courtesy English boy-band producer John McLaughlin (5ive, Busted), but it's not the disability it might be with lesser artists. McCulloch's assured tenor and Will Sergeant's wonderful ringing guitar are well represented by the crisp, inviting radio-ready tone.
At ten songs and 37 minutes, the economy of The Fountain makes it an enjoyable listen, though it's perhaps too Teflon. For all its sweeping catchiness, not a lot sticks. The exception is the energetic single, "Think I Need It Too," in which McCulloch's muscular croon channels Neil Diamond amidst Sergeant's topiary of shapely psych-pop guitar chime. "Forgotten Fields" is dramatic enough for U2, and the minor-key synth undercurrent of "Do You Know Who I Am" recalls "Bring on the Dancing Horses." The clever, loping, string-addled and harmony-enriched closing ballad, "The Idolness of Gods," is the album's other high note. — Chris Parker