Of the two surviving Creation bands, Primal Scream are addicted to change, whereas Teenage Fanclub are endlessly consistent (My Bloody Valentine, for whom hiatus is a semi-permanent state, don’t count). They’re the Big Star who didn’t get ruined by drugs or reach their Sister Lovers stage and instead kept making their #1 Record. Yes, they had their moment – 1991’s Bandwagonesque was famously album of the year in Spin, ahead of Nevermind – but their 27-year career hasn’t been about peaks and troughs but maintaining a steady path.
Eschewing the sound of Now, they were torchbearers for the classic. That remains true on this, their follow-up to 2010’s Shadows. As ever a showcase for democracy, it comprises 12 songs, three apiece by Norman Blake, Raymond McGinley and Gerard Love. Mortality is evidently a concern for all three as they approach or exceed 50, and the word ‘life’ appears with alarming frequency, but there’s a mordancy balancing out the mellifluous melodicism.
The gorgeous descending chord sequences are intact (see I’m In Love), as are the breezy ascending harmonies (It’s A Sign). Yes, there’s a curlicue of Krautrock on With You and motorik propulsion to I Was Beautiful When I Was Alive, but mainly this is Byrdsian business as usual. If you want progression, look elsewhere. Here is ‘just’ another routinely radiant TFC album.
Teenage Fanclub on being the second-best band in the world