Teenage Fanclub Continue to Do What They Do on 'Nothing Lasts Forever'
Published Sep 21, 2023There are certain bands who seem almost unbothered by how music has evolved over time, existing in a sort of peaceful stasis in the niche they've carved for themselves. Teenage Fanclub is one of those bands.
The Scottish act have been doing what they do for over 30 years now, and their sun-kissed melodies and shimmering guitars aren't any less affecting for it. Entering the public consciousness in 1991 with their landmark album Bandwagonesque, the band has continued to write and record the type of pop music that has come and gone out of fashion a handful of times since. On their new album Nothing Last Forever, Teenage Fanclub still sound bright, chiming and as thoughtful as ever. While the material on the album skews slightly more introverted and darker than what they've done previously, the band's harmonies still soar sky high.
It's these harmonies that set Teenage Fanclub apart from their contemporaries. Right off the top with "Foreign Land," co-singers and songwriters Norman Blake and Raymond McGinely set the tone for the rest of the record. With an initial blast of feedback reminiscent of their '90s hit "The Concept," the band jumps into a shiny, solid groove with Blake's and McGinley's pitch perfect vocals sitting comfortably above it all.
The songs on Nothing Lasts Forever have the feel of American Beauty-era Grateful Dead, with their easy-breezy nature and duelling vocals. There's a pastoral feel to the album — the band recorded it all in an epic ten day session at a studio in the Welsh countryside, and you can hear that region's influence in everything here. It sounds wide open and unencumbered, full but never cluttered or dense. "See the Light" is a playfully bouncy affair, adorned with a subtle horn line that elevates the song's lively nature.
Underneath it all, Teenage Fanclub seem like they're doing their best to remain positive in a not-so optimistic world. Epic seven minute album closer "I Will Love You" features McGinely singing, "I will love you / Until the flags are put down / And the exceptionalists are buried under the ground." The lyric highlights the album's tug of war between optimism and fatalism.
It's been over thirty years, but time doesn't seem to have slowed Teenage Fanclub in the slightest. The band's outlook may be less sunny, but their music sounds as lovingly crafted as it always has. (Merge)