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© Violeta Alvarez

Though Fountains of Wayne’s sound has fluctuated over time, they’re back to what they do best.

Adam Schlesinger dismisses the idea that Fountains of Wayne’s rootsy new album, Sky Full of Holes, represents a departure for the group best known for their fuzzy 2003 hit, “Stacy’s Mom.”

“If anything, this is the way we naturally write and play,” says the New York–based singer-bassist, who formed Fountains in 1996 with singer-guitarist Chris Collingwood. “We started this band almost like an experiment to see if we could use loud, distorted guitars. It was a reaction to the musical climate of that time — like, ‘Oh, we can do that too.’ ” Schlesinger laughs before adding that, finally, “the pendulum is swinging back.”

On Sky Full of Holes, the stripped-down arrangements make it easier to appreciate ?Collingwood’s and Schlesinger’s slice-of-life lyrics, which depict with short-story precision a rogues’ gallery of lovable losers. “They opened up a bar called Living Hell,” Collingwood sings in “Richie and Ruben.” “Right from the start it didn’t go too well.”

Though he agrees with Schlesinger about Fountains’ default setting, Collingwood allows that the band’s 2009 acoustic tour — on which they played early versions of tunes that ended up on Holes — did affect the new album. “Normally our process is that we write songs and record them as quickly as possible, before we get the chance to be sick of them,” he explains with a chuckle. “But on this record, we were able to tweak things by the time we went into the studio.”

This fall, the band (which also includes guitarist Jody Porter and drummer Brian Young) will take those songs back to the stage for a U.S. tour. It won’t be acoustic, but Collingwood is hoping for a relatively mellow experience. “I’ve learned how to take care of myself on the road,” he says. “It’s not quite as body-abusing as it used to be.”