Look Park is the debut solo project of Fountains of Wayne frontman Chris Collingwood, and marks a significant step away from his usual output with the band. In lieu of his usual power-chord rock anthems, Collingwood constructs intricate arrangements with layered instrumentation and sunny vocal harmonies. Acoustic and electric guitars oppose each other on either side of the stereo field, separated by Collingwood's reserved but strong vocal performances. Layered accents and subtleties complement tunes like the introspective and whimsical "Aeroplane" without becoming cumbersome, a problem that arises on several other tracks.
Look Park's weakest points are the frills that seem to dominate more than half of the album. They overshadow songs at times; the incessant strings in the background of "Stars of New York," for example, make me feel like I'm trapped in the elevator of the Empire State Building. The busy nature of songs like this make it hard to feel the dynamic punch that might have better sold this album, though legendary producer Mitchell Froom cuts through the din in places, making Collingwood's clever and cheeky writing shine on songs like "Crash That Piano" and "Minor Is The Lonely Key."
The best track on Look Park is "I'm Gonna Haunt This Place," an eerie cut with a driving snare drum and heavily reverberated vocals that echo ominously in the spacious arrangement. It's a chilling taste of uniqueness that, sadly, is absent from much of this album. (Yep Roc)