Teenage Fanclub: Shadows (Merge) | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Teenage Fanclub

Shadows

Merge

Jun 18, 2010 Issue #31 - Spring 2010 - Joanna Newsom Bookmark and Share


Shadow is a near-perfect title for the new album from Glasgow's Teenage Fanclub, because for U.S. fans the band is an enigma. It's been five years since Fanclub's last release, the band rarely tours, and didn't even have a decent website until recently.

All of this, of course, is tragedy. Only quasi-notable in the U.S. for having its 1991 release, Bandwagonesque, placed above Nirvana's Nevermind for best album of the year by Spin magazine, Teenage Fanclub could easily be called forgotten, but that's assuming the band was ever remembered. Worse yet, that little trivia nugget is usually offered up in an oh-how-stupid-Spin-was context when discussing the transcendent genius of Nevermind. (Bandwagonesque was and still is the better album.)

Ever since that auspicious moment, Teenage Fanclub has been quietly releasing album after album, most of which have been nearly as good (or better) than Bandwagonesque. Shadows is no exception. Filled with subtle hooks, layered harmonies, and chiming guitars, it's not sonically far from most Fanclub albums. But whereas most of their albums have had at least one or two weak tracks, every tune on Shadows is tight and fully developed.

"Baby Lee" is one of the best pure pop songs you'll hear all year, and it's not even close to the best track on the album. "Dark Clouds" falls closer to traditional piano-based singer/songwriter fare than just about anything the band has done, and it's a tune that could make Graham Nash jealous. "Shock and Awe" sounds like Tom Petty filtered through shoegaze guitars, and "Today Never Ends" is The Flying Burrito Brothers melded with XTC.

Simply put, Shadows is probably Teenage Fanclub's best record to date. At this point, it's difficult to say what that means for a band that has had such bad luck in the States. Likely, Shadows will be forgotten like so many other excellent Fanclub albums, including the notorious Bandwagonesque. One thing is certain, though: Shadows is better than Nevermind, too. (www.teenagefanclub.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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