Album review: Teenage Fanclub’s latest album is a celebration of the Here and now

Here finds the boys indirectly addressing life’s disappointments, with the realisation that salvation arrives by living in the moment and being grateful.
Here by Teenage Fanclub. Courtesy PeMa / Republic Of Music
Here by Teenage Fanclub. Courtesy PeMa / Republic Of Music

Here

Teenage Fanclub

(Merge)

Four and a half stars

It would make sense if Teenage Fanclub were a supergroup.

The Scottish five piece are ruled by a trio of songwriters and vocalists – guitarists Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley and bassist Gerard Love – so skilled they could have easily have gone their own ways and forged their own bands to great acclaim.

Instead, for nearly 30 years the three stuck together – their loyalty to the cause resulting in a series of near perfect pop-rock gems destined to stand the test of time.

Their 11th album, Here, continues that enviable streak with another dozen tracks of expertly crafted tunes, heavy on the group’s trademark three-part harmony and The Birds-style riffs.

The only difference here is the subject matter. As the title subtly suggests, Here finds the group accepting their place in the rock canon.

When they first burst out with their more sturdy and ­chaotic-sounding 1990 debut A Catholic Education, the group were touted as the next big British group likely to hit it big in the United States. Seizing the moment, “the Fannies” released their career defining work, the indie-rock masterpiece that was 1991‘s ­Bandwagonesque.

In a cruel twist of fate, however, the album’s marriage of pristine melodies and souped-up jangly riffs felt out of vogue as the hipsters of the time crowded around the new sludgy grunge sounds coming out of Seattle.

Here finds the boys indirectly addressing life’s disappointments, with the realisation that salvation arrives by living in the moment and being grateful.

The ebullient opener I’m in Love is all about that realisation that the person you fancy is a keeper. Over driving power-pop guitars, Blake says it comes to down to the little things: “It feels good / With you next to me / That’s enough”.

Hold On is effortless with its Birds-esque strumming. You can imagine McGinley strolling in the park as he croons the opening lines: “Wake up, I am alive / One more day, I am alive.”

Love’s compositions move away from the comfort zone.

I was Beautiful When I Was Alive is all woozy psychedelia, the hazy chorus descends upon you like the evocative waterfall in the album cover.

The standout track however comes from Blake.

The Darkest Part of the Night is one of the most gorgeous songs you will hear this or any other year. It is a pristine folk song injected with sweeping strings and hooks that immediately sinks into your heart, as well as your head.

Touching and life affirming, Here finds Teenage Fanclub celebrating their existence – something for which we can be more than grateful.

sasaeed@thenational.ae

Published: September 19, 2016 04:00 AM

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