Shadows is the new album from jangglists-supreme Teenage Fanclub. And based on the couple of plays I’ve given it so far (thanks Spotify, my CD is in the post) it is a real return to form for a band I have loved all the way back to “Bandwagonesque”.
The fannies now release a new album about every five years, so it is an event to cherish. I found Man Made (2005) a little “tired” and it just didn’t have that essential x-factor that they become known for, particularly on such fab albums as Grand Prix (1995) and Songs from Northern Britain (1997). Apparently they recorded that album on borrowed amps etc. For this new effort they have dug out a load of their own old gear and really gone for it. And it shows in spades. It is jangly, lush, warm and majestic.
I had already heard “Baby Lee” a while ago. It is sunny, melodic, hummable, memorable. Typical Teenage Fanclub fare. I saw one review of it that criticised it as “Teenage Fanclub by numbers”. Well, that’s how I like it. You can wait for their experimantal kazoo album, I’ll keep the fannies as they are – all Big Star and Byrdsy with an undercurrent of that particular “Scottish soul” that their fellow Scots Camera Obscura and Belle and Sebastian are also infused with. It seems to be in the Scottish DNA. You can trace it back to Orange Juice and it is the cherry on top of a beautiful sound.
The album kicks off with “Sometimes I Don’t Need To Believe In Anything”, all swagger and slight Motown infusions (if motown was based in Scotland). Second in is “Baby Lee” (which is my single of the year so far). I’ve also been swayed by the sweet melancholy of “The Past” and “Dark Clouds”. “When I Still Have Thee” is uplifting, expansive and just like honey – A “Sparky’s Dream” for the 10’s. It explains that “The rolling Stones wrote a song for me, it’s a minor song in a major key” – see??? The album moves into more woozy, longing territory on “Sweet Days Waiting” and album-closer “Today never Ends”, both of which are sonically three pints in with just enough sun on your face for that nicely glowing feeling.
And that’s all on two plays. I get the feeling that I will end up loving every track on this album for different reasons after living with it for a while.
Regular readers know that I don’t review loads of music on the site – it really isn’t for that purpose. I think making a judgement on why you like an album is a bit like saying why you fancy a girl – and others may not fancy her. Fools. Well, if this album was a girl, I would tell a few gags, buy it a drink and throw some shapes.
It’s that good.