Though their commercial success has proven modest at best, Scottish alterna-indie-pop vets Teenage Fanclub have quietly sustained a remarkably consistent career across their nearly 30 years and 10 studio albums to date.
While they’ve cultivated a devoted following over their nearly 30 years performing together, they were largely overshadowed by more visible bands like Oasis, Blur, Pulp, and their fellow Scottish brethren Travis during the UK rock resurgence of the mid to late 1990s. Despite the fact that their songcraft frequently equaled, and at times eclipsed, that of their more popular peers. Indeed, few bands of the era can stake claim to the back-to-back-to-back brilliance the band delivered with the 1-2-3 punch of masterful LPs Bandwagonesque (1991), Thirteen (1993), and Grand Prix (1995).
Here, their eleventh studio album and follow-up to 2010’s excellent Shadows, concludes the band’s longest hiatus between albums. But the wait is well worth it, as the soaring song suite Teenage Fanclub unveil here conforms to the same sterling caliber we’ve come to expect from the quintet. Songwriting duties are split democratically among bandmates Norman Blake, Gerard Love, and Raymond McGinley across the 12 guitar-driven, mellifluously melodic songs that juxtapose melancholic sentiments (“The Darkest Part of Night,” “Steady State”) with carpe diem infused optimism (“Hold On,” “Live in the Moment,” It’s a Sign”).
While highlights abound, standout tracks include the declarative euphoria of the tender album-opening, jingle-jangle ballad “I’m in Love,” the yearning for escapism that guides the plaintive “I Was Beautiful When I Was Alive,” and the shimmering “I Have Nothing More to Say.”
Though the themes of time and experience govern the subject matter, the now middle-aged band refreshingly avoid sounding jaded or complacent. Instead, the album embodies an endearingly unfettered innocence, sincerity and grace, qualities that enable the band to reconnect with their past, while embracing the present and gazing toward the future, whatever it may hold. “We don’t travel as far as we think we do from the music we like as children, really, do we?” Love recently confided to The Guardian. “I still like to keep in touch with the wee guy I was who wrote my first songs.”
Here’s to hoping that another six years won’t pass before we have another Teenage Fanclub long player to enjoy. Though if they match the quality of the revelatory songcraft showcased on Here, we will learn to be patient.
Notable Tracks: “Hold On” | “I Have Nothing More to Say” | “I’m in Love” | “It’s a Sign” | “I Was Beautiful When I Was Alive”
SEE Teenage Fanclub on tour this fall | Dates