After years of noble semi-obscurity punctuated by one novelty hit (“Stacy’s Mom”), Fountains of Wayne went on a hiatus that sometimes seemed permanent — their new album, “Sky Full of Holes,” is only their second studio release in eight years.
Fountains of Wayne albums are usually unimpeachable: poignant and gently ironic, and ridiculously well made. Even the bad ones are pretty good. “Sky,” with its carefully detailed stories of suburban schlubs, feuding bar owners and luckless Acela riders, hits all the right notes, but something feels off.
Slow and sentimental, more wistful than droll, “Sky” is as interested in loping, acoustic country-folk songs as it is in vigorous pop. If the band’s last album, 2007’s “Traffic and Weather,” was a Cars homage, “Sky” is an unofficial tribute to the Jayhawks. It’s not a misfire — one of its gentlest songs, “A Road Song,” is also one of the band’s all-time finest — but those who expect the usual gimlet-eyed power pop (that is to say, most everyone) will be left wondering where it went.