Personnel: Chris Collingwood (vocals, guitar); Mitchell Froom (keyboards); Michael Urbano (drums); Mike Viola (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: David Boucher.
Photographer: Gnossos Pappadopoulis.
Look Park is a solo debut of sorts for Fountains of Wayne lead singer and co-songwriter Chris Collingwood, his first project outside of the seasoned power pop group. The musician has spurned the solo label, however, insisting that Look Park is "band music," and he is joined on the album by a notable backing crew. Davey Faragher and Michael Urbano, both former members of Cracker with impressive sidemen credits, play bass and drums, respectively; acclaimed producer Mitchell Froom (Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt) handles keys in addition to studio duties, and Mike Viola and members of Winterpills contribute backing vocals. Collingwood also challenges expectations by embracing a more psychedelic palette here that includes Mellotron and synths, as well as a more consistently reflective tone than we're used to hearing from his band. Still in place are the songwriter's flair for bright, memorable melodies, those lucid vocals, and nods to classic pop. Wading in the realm of Bacharach, "Stars of New York" is marked by acoustic guitar, synth strings, and wistful extended chords that accompany lyrics about romance and class division in the City ("They probably fall in love like you and I do"). The tango-charged "Minor Is the Lonely Key" is another of the more complex tunes that muses via music metaphor ("Mind the sharps and sing the melody alone/'Cause they can't hear the tune"). One of the trippier entries, "I'm Gonna Haunt This Place" has acoustic guitar, spare percussion, and organ voices, along with a melody and backing vocal line that would fit right in on Sgt. Pepper's. A more celebratory offering, "Shout, Pt. 1" has jangle pop spirit and a singalong group vocal. Collingwood does a good job here of separating Look Park from his work with Adam Schlesinger in a way that will likely bring along a lot of existing fans, and with material strong enough to make it hard to pick standouts. (Trivia of note: the album's cover art was designed by Shepard Fairey.) ~ Marcy Donelson