Fastball Keep Your Wig On

Usually having a hit single is the goal of every band’s career and it opens all kinds of new doors to them. For Fastball, on the other hand, their ubiquitous hit from 1998, "The Way,” was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Rather than pushing them over the top, it pushed them over the edge and the band took the last five years off to try and get back to their roots again, and they’ve more than achieved that with Keep Your Wig On. Not much has really changed for the Austin trio in the past ten years — their two songwriters Miles Zuniga and Tony Scalzo are still penning power pop gems at an alarming rate. The Beatles were obviously a big influence, and there are quite a few moments when their idolising gets pretty close to mimicry (as on "Someday” and "Airstream”), but there are worse bands to try to duplicate. It isn’t that they are doing anything that they haven’t done before, they are just doing it with more gusto and passion than they have in years. The icing on the cake is the production by Mike McCarthy (who has worked with Spoon) and Adam Schlesinger (from Fountains of Wayne), bringing more than enough polish to the proceedings. Fastball might not be "blessed” with another huge hit on Keep Your Wig On, but they’ve managed to make one of the year’s best power pop albums. (Rykodisc)