Teenage Fanclub - Here

Teenage Fanclub’s fans love them so much it’s ridiculous (one of the band's nicknames is the “Fannies”). The reciprocally friendly Glaswegians, going on three decades but still growing both into and out of their name, return with their tenth album, Here, a collection offering welcoming familiarity while pushing the creative envelope as their most evolved, arguably most sombre, work.

Raymond McGinley, Gerard Love and Norman Blake equally divide songwriting duties. The latter, as the only father, potentially has fewer itches left to scratch, the lyrics of his opener ‘I’m In Love’: “It feels good when you’re close to me / That’s enough” give the confidence of no longer shopping for new brands of jeans, albeit now maybe with a size larger waist. Or perhaps Norman’s simply the mushiest. Regardless, like all great songwriters, Blake writes about himself but his audience believe he’s writing about them. What a gift.

Gerard Love’s ‘The First Sight’ is the indicative and chronological centre point. Dad dancing gives way to, at least in wider perception, his band’s archetypal sound (even the album’s press release can’t resist using the term “jangle”). They really go for it with a beautifully indulgent guitar solo their famous track ‘Neil Jung’ thankfully hasn't got out of their system. There’s an old fashioned fade: they don’t want to stop playing, we wonder what on earth Super Furry Animals would have done without them.

Zadie Smith’s celebrated self-critical essay for the New York Review of Books describes her London middle-class peers patting themselves on their backs for mingling between cultures, without mingling between classes. This sentiment is addressed in Raymond McGinley’s ‘I Was Beautiful When I Was Alive’ about the condescending attitude of those who purport to know better. McGinley isn’t alone bringing a sense of dreich, fans know it’s intrinsic, but is the most socially bold.

Birmingham and Manchester insecurely clamour for affection as England’s second city, but to nominate Glasgow, a city that has soundtracked so many loves and losses, as Scotland’s second city – indeed anywhere’s second anything – is a put down. Here is a comfortable in its jeans, lovingly crafted album by Britain’s best loved band from Britain’s undisputed music capital. We love Teenage Fanclub.

Overall

A welcomingly familiar, while tellingly sombre, album from a much loved band.

9

out of 10

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