Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Teenage Fanclub, Shadows

As noted in my recent review of  their career retrospective Four Thousand Seven Hundred And Sixty-Six Seconds, Teenage Fanclub has been a reference band for power pop or guitar pop groups since their heyday in the early to mid 1990s.  From 1991 through 2000 they released five albums plus a throwaway put together to fulfill a label contract.  Since 2000 their production has slowed and their popularity has waned.  They released Man Made in 2005 and now in 2010 comes Shadows, both released on their own label (and distributed by Merge in the US).

Teenage Fanclub specializes in superbly crafted songs, beautiful vocal harmony, and acoustic and electric guitars that jangle, chime, strum and intertwine in intricate patterns  (The interplay of the guitars on the out choruses of “Back of My Mind” was the kind of thing I was aiming for with the horns on “Horns of the Moon”.  Needless to say, the Fannies are a lot better at it than I am.)  They are unique in that they have three very talented songwriters in Norman Blake, Gerard Love and Raymond McGinley who have managed to share songwriting duties and work together for over twenty years.  It’s rare to see bands with this kind of ability not come apart as egos clash and insecurities in the face of talented bandmates surface.

On Shadows the Fannies do what they’ve always done – write fine songs and perform them beautifully.  They clearly love this kind of music and see no reason to do something else simply because popular tastes are currently focused elsewhere.  Tracks on Shadows range from the sunny power pop of “Baby Lee”  to the sweet melancholy of the aptly named “Sweet Days Waiting”.  Most of the members of the band are in their 40s and they aren’t writing songs from the perspective of 20-year olds anymore.  It’s refreshing to hear music written from an adult perspective that isn’t designed to appeal to what the record companies think is the mindset of the “older demographic”.

When I first listened to Shadows I thought it might be a bit too quiet and staid.  I was mistaken, the album is a grower.  If you give it the time and have the patience for multiple listens the Fannies start to work their magic.  A chord change here, an achingly beautiful harmony passage there, the sentiment expressed in a particularly well turned lyric catches you and before long you’re hooked.  Longtime fans of Teenage Fanclub will be delighted simply because the band has put out a new album.  If they give Shadows the time it needs to work, anyone else who enjoys power pop will have discovered a new band to fall in love with.

“The Back of My Mind” from Shadows


06/19/2010 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews | , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] Sixty-Six Seconds Fifteen years or so after their heyday Teenage Fanclub released a new album, Shadows, this week.  I love this band and was surprised to find I’d never reviewed any of their […]

    Pingback by Review: Teenage Fanclub, Four Thousand Seven Hundred And Sixty-Six Seconds « Tuned In To Music | 06/19/2010 | Reply

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