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Alternative & Indie - Released April 30, 2021 | Merge Records

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Most rock bands don't last 30 years or get to the point of having to contemplate how to age gracefully. Teenage Fanclub, who burst onto the indie rock scene in 1991 with the release of their brilliant sophomore album, Bandwagonesque, have step-by-careful-step found ways of staying in the game, in the process morphing from a noisy, guitar-heavy Glasgow power pop quintet into a folky, soft rock act based around the songwriting, guitars and singing of its two stalwarts Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley. Painstaking craftsmen who only release an album every five years or so, the pair are now surrounded by a band of keyboardist Euros Childs, original drummer Francis Macdonald (who returned in 2000) and guitarist/bassist Dave McGowan, who joined the band in 2004 and now replaces original bassist and singer Gerard Love who left in 2018. While losing Love's institutional memory and third vocal presence is a blow, in their own "get on with it" way, The Fannies, as they are affectionately referred to by fans, have soldiered on with Blake and McGinley building their tenth album, the anxious Endless Arcade. Instead of Teenage Fanclub's earlier roar and rambunctious lyrics about having seen it all before and girls who are "gonna get some records by the Status Quo," this is now a band whose commitment to Byrdsian chime and writing hooky, power pop-leaning melodies has happily survived. Only now it's couched in strummy, unaffected guitars and polished, impeccably arranged vocal harmonies. Simply recorded, the band's vocal harmonies dominate a detailed, balanced mix. Incessantly worried these days about mortality and convinced that "emotional honesty" is the only "lasting value," Teenage Fanclub now urges listeners not to be afraid of the "endless arcade" of life, while at the same time in Blake's "The Sun Won't Shine on Me," he and McGinely sing "With a troubled mind/ I am in decline." In McKinley's "Come With Me," another bittersweet, slowly unfolding tune, the pair ruminate, "Come with me, together we'll ride to infinity/Come with me, together we'll hide from reality." The dreamy, mostly downcast zeitgeist is dispelled if only for a moment by Blake's "I'm More Inclined," a beautiful evocation of faith in true love. Having traded power for pensive, Teenage Fanclub's wonderous devotion to melody continues to conquer even their gravest apprehensions. © Robert Baird/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 21, 1997 | Creation - Columbia

No longer the brash, slightly grungy flavor of the month they were in 1992, Songs From Northern Britain finds Teenage Fanclub's trio of singer/songwriters -- Gerard Love, Raymond McGinley, and Norman Blake -- addressing adulthood and responsibility with a bright optimism that sets them apart from many of their contemporaries. From the cheeky yet heartfelt title to the gorgeous cover photographs taken by the band with photographer David Milne in the Scottish Highlands, Songs From Northern Britain is ostensibly a concept album about home and love. Much like the Byrds, the Eagles, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young identified themselves with Los Angeles and Topanga Canyon, Teenage Fanclub has become intrinsically linked to Glasgow and rural Scotland. On "Planets," Blake sings, "We're going over the country/And into the highlands/To look for a home." Similarly, on "I Don't Want Control of You," one of the most beautiful affirmations of fidelity in a relationship, Blake writes, "Everyday I look in a different face/Feelings getting stronger with every embrace." The overall effect is a feeling that the members of Teenage Fanclub are happy with who they are and who they love and see these notions as universal ideals. Musically, the album is more arranged than past releases and delves further into a folky, acoustic sound that fleshes out their Big Star fascination with some sweet harmonies à la the Byrds. There is even a slight bit of country twang mixed into these eminently hummable songs. This isn't to say that Teenage Fanclub has gone completely acoustic, though, as "Planets" features the sonic rush of a Moog synthesizer and fuzzy electric guitars rock pleasantly throughout much of the album. While Songs From Northern Britain may be too gentle and subtle for those listeners not willing to give it more than one spin, it is a resolutely beautiful album that will most likely stand as Teenage Fanclub's masterpiece. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1991 | DGC

It's been said that good artists copy and great artists steal. The Scottish quartet Teenage Fanclub were the baby-faced thieves of the 1990s, dusting off the best parts of well-referenced American classics and making them sound brand new. On this, their major label debut, there are bittersweet Big Star melodies ("Alcoholiday," "December") and sunny canyon harmonies of the Byrds ("Star Sign," "The Concept"). It's nothing new to nick from the Flying Burrito Brothers, but less common to take that band's rangy, loping groove; here, it's done to heartwarming effect on songs like "What You Do To Me" and "Pet Rock." The chiming guitars of the Raspberries show up, too ("Metal Baby"), but the string sounds on Bandwagonesque are just as likely to melt and swoon and turn into a surprise of squalling feedback. At a time when their grungy and shoegazing peers were chasing what was cool, Teenage Fanclub aimed for comfort and won. © Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1995 | DGC

For all of the brilliance of records like Bandwagonesque and the underrated Thirteen, at times Teenage Fanclub seemed little more than a showcase for the laconic melodic genius of Norman Blake -- fairly or not, the songwriting contributions of bandmates Gerard Love and Raymond McGinley suffered mightily by comparison, mere filler when stacked alongside Blake-penned marvels like "The Concept" and "Norman 3." That said, the superb Grand Prix is perhaps the truest group effort in the Fannies' catalog -- more than ever before, their democratic approach truly bears fruit, and it's indicative of the disc's uniform excellence that the first Blake composition, the lovely "Mellow Doubt," doesn't even surface until track three, by which time McGinley's "About You" and Love's harmony-rich "Sparky's Dream" have already firmly established the set's ragged-but-right tenor. While new drummer Paul Quinn fails to recreate the buoyantly reckless abandon of the sacked Brendan O'Hare, Grand Prix otherwise captures complete creative synergy -- in particular, "Don't Look Back" is Love's watershed moment, a gorgeously wistful love song highlighted by wittily lovelorn lyrics like "I'd steal a car to drive you home," as good a pick-up line as anything in the annals of rock & roll. Not everything works (McGinley's "Verisimilitude" goes nowhere fast) and Blake's contributions are still the highlights ("Neil Jung" and "I'll Make It Clear" are simply perfect pop songs), but Grand Prix is ultimately the product of a band at the peak of its collective powers, not as much a landmark as Bandwagonesque but every bit as good on its own terms. © Jason Ankeny /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 23, 2000 | Sony Music UK

For better or worse, the only thing that truly sticks out on Teenage Fanclub's sixth studio record is the title. It's the worst since Ass. However, "howdy" is a fitting way to sum up these 12 simple, humble pop songs, most of which are light-hearted and cheery. It would be easy -- and understandable to a certain degree -- if die-hard Fanclub fans felt letdown with the band flying in a stylistic holding pattern, though the influences on this one tend to point toward the hushed side of the Hollies more than the previous indebtedness to the Byrds and Big Star. Those feeling robbed should look at it this way: Just how many bands can last over a decade and continue to make completely non-cynical, non-cloying pop as well as Teenage Fanclub? Not many. There is zero flash. No blazing distortion, no extreme emotion, no showiness whatsoever. What's apparent is top-drawer craft, lovely three-part harmonies, delicately strummed guitars, and flawless arrangements. Nothing here is going to knock you off your feet, but is that such a bad thing? One of the best charms of Howdy is how you can put it on and have your mood improved without having to put much thought into it. It doesn't take many plays to get your head around it, but it's anything but disposable or throwaway. They set out to make a good pop record, and they succeeded. It's by no means a landmark, and it's not close to their best; it's just well-done. There's nothing wrong with turning it up to five every now and then, is there? © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 11, 2020 | Merge Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1993 | DGC

Unjustly savaged by fans and critics alike upon its initial release, with the benefit of hindsight Thirteen has revealed itself an eminently worthy follow-up to the classic Bandwagonesque; though not as consistent or refreshing as its predecessor, the album takes simultaneous steps backward and forward, retreating to a darker, sludgier guitar sound reminiscent of their debut effort A Catholic Education even as it blossoms to incorporate lilting string arrangements and glowing harmony vocals. Despite taking its title from Big Star's most gentle and optimistic moment, the record not only expands its horizons far beyond Alex Chilton-inspired pop but also maintains an emotional tenor that's largely bitter and disillusioned -- titles like "Song to the Cynic," "120 Mins," and, especially, "Commercial Alternative" reflect the band's disenchantment with both its former flavor-of-the-month status and the growing creative malaise rampant throughout the alt-rock community (then at its commercial zenith). Although Gerard Love and Raymond McGinley make memorable contributions, Thirteen is first and foremost a showcase for the peerless pop genius of Norman Blake -- the should-have-been hits "Norman 3" and "Ret Liv Dead" boast a crunchy, lumbering sound heavily indebted to Neil Young's records with Crazy Horse, while the soaring "Commercial Alternative" evokes vintage Byrds, a reference point further driven home by the epic closer "Gene Clark." [Original pressings of Thirteen included no fewer than six unlisted bonus cuts assembled from British singles -- the material is consistently excellent, highlighted by the McGinley original "Golden Glades" as well as reverent covers of Phil Ochs' "Chords of Fame" and the Flying Burrito Brothers' "Older Guys."] © Jason Ankeny /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 7, 2005 | Merge Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 13, 2019 | Merge Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 9, 2016 | Merge Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 7, 2005 | Merge Records

Alternative & Indie - Released January 27, 2003 | Sony Music UK

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 8, 2010 | Merge Records

Alternative & Indie - Released March 15, 2021 | Merge Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 8, 2010 | Merge Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 26, 2021 | Merge Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 13, 2021 | Merge Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 20, 2019 | Merge Records

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