Summer wouldn't be summer without Fountains of Wayne. Sure, hot dogs would be just as carcinogenic, steering wheels would still sear flesh, and young lovers would still get VD. But the season wouldn't be quite so special without the finely observed details and lacerating hooks of these New Jersey songsters.
Famous for 2003's infectious ode to MILF romance, "Stacy's Mom," Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood have spent nearly a decade making road-trip-ready power-pop. And despite packing three albums full of sarcasm, ironic kitsch, and the occasional heartbreaking ballad, FOW still fills this two-CD collection of unreleased songs and non-album tracks with irresistible sing-alongs and not-so-quiet desperation. But the nicest surprises are the ones told with a straight face. Covers of Burt Bacharach's "Trains and Boats and Planes" and a surprisingly somber "Baby One More Time" join tunes like "Nightlight" and "I Want You Around," sweet and comforting as a drippy-cold snow cone. So don't let summer get you down. Dip your feet in the deep end, practice safe sex, and for God's sake, kids, put away the new Weezer and pick up some Out-of-State Plates.