What does it sound like?:
Teenage Fanclub! The signs weren’t brilliant. Obviously the great Gerry Love (author of too many of their great songs to count) left the band in 2018. And then none of the singles were particularly spectacular as singles. There was also a lot of chatter on the ****book fan page about how it was all a bit meh and not Bandwagonesque etc. So for the first time I didn’t listen to a Fannies album on the first day of release (also physical copies were held up in customs so I couldn’t get the vinly initially, but let’s not get into Brexit issues here…)
BUT. I’ve now done a good deal more than 6 listens, and well, it’s a good ‘un, definitely a grower, and possibly my favourite of theirs this century. Will it change the world? No, it’s a Teenage Fanclub album. Will it convert anyone? Also probably nope. But anyone already signed up to the Fanclub must surely find something to love here.
It’s the sound of a bunch of middle aged blokes ageing gracefully, if not always happily, and continuing to plough their own furrow and evolve.
Norman Blake has clearly had a tough time, one which I can relate to, and his songs lyrically are at times painfully, almost embarrassingly honest. But combine them with the timeless tunes and it’s one of his best ever collections. The guitar noodling at the end of Home is just wonderful and takes it way beyond the single version. I’m More Inclined and Back in the Day (their best ever fade out?) are instant Fannies classics and I’m doing my best to get them up the Spotify charts on my own. The Sun Won’t Shine On Me is gorgeous but feels like it could have gone all out epic. Warm Embrace I still can’t decide if it’s brilliant or just weird.
And Raymond McGinley? A veryfine showing. Endless Arcade itself is brilliant and Euros Child’s keyboard solo is bonkers but great. Everything is Falling Apart wasn’t an obvious choice for first single, but it’s a great album track with a proper Krautrock feel to it towards the end. In Our Dreams was another odd choice for a single, but it works wonderfully here. And Come With Me might be his best ever song.
There’s a bit of a lull at the end I think (certainly in tempo), but we’ll see how that goes with a few more listens.
So is Gerry missed? Actually not really. But a new Lightships album sometime soon would be a very welcome companion piece.
What does it all *mean*?
I suspect Teenage Fanclub will be my favourite band til the day I die.
Goes well with…
Their back catalogue.
Couple of weeks back.
Might suit people who like…
Unassuming middle-aged blokes who looks like the rest of us, but who, unlike the rest of us, thirty years into their career still have a way with a life-affirming tune.