Shadows (PeMa )
IN 1990, Teenage Fanclub released their debut album A Catholic Education, and in the 20 years since, the Glaswegian quartet’s sound and style has hardly changed.
The ‘Fannies’ guitar driven pop is clever and melodic, topped off with sublime vocal harmonies, and lyrics infused with great warmth and compassion.
The band’s 10th album Shadows contains all these trademarks. Yet, despite sticking to their formula, every track pulsates with a vibrancy, urgency, and freshness, which declares that the band’s core members and songwriters Gerard Love, Raymond McGinley, and Norman Blake are enjoying a burst of renewed inspiration and energy.
The stand out tracks are Blake’s ‘Baby Lee’, a beautiful pop song, with an irresistible chorus; and ‘When I Still Have Thee’, an effervescent, driving number, celebrating the joys of being with your love. It also features the album’s most memorable line: “The Rolling Stones, wrote a song for me, it’s a minor song, in a major key.”
McGinley’s ‘The Fall’ is another stand-out, growing into an anthemic mini-epic with just a subtle chord change on an acoustic guitar, while ‘The Back Of My Mind’ is lit up by sparking guitar lines and, again, a solid, forward driving rhythm.
This is a a strong album from the Scots and at least half of the tracks on Shadows deserve to take up residence in the band’s concert set list and any further ‘Best of’.
Teenage Fanclub play the Radisson Live Lounge on Thursday July 22 at 7.30pm for a ‘Galway Arts Festival and Róisín Dubh presents...’ concert.
Beachcomber’s Windowsill (4AD )
OXFORD UNIVERSITY graduates, Stornoway number an ornithologist, a medical doctor, and a PhD in Russian literature among their ranks, and they love hiking, power-kiting, and nature-watching.
These passions all find their way onto the band’s debut album, Beachcomber’s Windowsill, but it says much for the Oxford indie/folk band that they transform them into songs which celebrate and urge living life to the full.
Opening track ‘Zorbing’, the album’s best song, finds vocalist Brian Briggs enjoying the eccentric sport and using it as a metaphor for falling in love - “Been Zorbing through the streets of Cowley/We were always meant to be/Zorbing together”.
The touching and poignant ballad, ‘Fuel Up’ uses travel to stand for life’s journey and the need for compassion. ‘We Are The Battery Human’ is a down home, old style, folk ballad, calling on listeners to experience life and the great outdoors (“We were tuned in by Natural Selection” ).
Beachcomber’s Windowsill is an impressive debut, featuring strong, very able, songwriting and musicianship, and hints at potentially greater things to come from this young band.