For about three decades now, Glasgow’s own Teenage Fanclub have been a dependable force in the indie pop universe. Driven forwards by three incredible songwriters, the band seemed to weather everyone that was thrown at them – from the tornado that was Creation Records onwards into the 21st century.
But change comes for us all, eventually. A shift in line up finds Teenage Fanclub embarking on subtle evolution on new album ‘Endless Arcade’, their first with Euros Childs as a full member. It’s the sound of a group locating a quiet sense of renewal, probing for fresh inspiration and – for the large part – finding it.
Opener ‘Home’ sets the tone, a resolute group performance that finds space for each member. There’s always been a democracy to Teenage Fanclub’s songwriting, and here the warm Stax organ sound is allowed to extend into a seven minute jam courtesy of some gnarly lead guitar playing.
The rest is a display of precision, however. ‘Endless Arcade’ is a neat, Deram ’67 style psych-pop outburst, while ‘Warm Embrace’ is exactly that. The gentle, Tom Verlaine esque guitars that open ‘Everything Is Falling Apart’ have a pensive, anxious quality, while the warped wah wah effect on the ‘In Our Dreams’ intro nods towards the heaviness of ‘Bandwagonesque’.
In turn, ‘Back In The Day’ is more straight-forwardly reflective, offering an Autumnal palette in both tone and lyric. ‘Living With You’ patches a preening Lou Reed stomp against feelings of uncertainty, with the band remaining endearingly open and lyrically precise about their innermost feelings. Ending with the crisp, plangent chords ‘Silent Song’ – a frosted reminiscence of Galaxie 500 in places – it’s an enriching song cycle, one that points to avenues unexplored and possibilities new.
The sound of a band pushing forwards, ‘Endless Arcade’ points to a bright future for a much-loved institution.
Words: Robin Murray
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