It is hard to believe that Teenage Fanclub were swimming against the tide of grunge throughout the 1990s. Their songs have a wonderful Byrdsian quality, without sounding retro or derivative. Every TF album features at least one real gem of a poprock song, but some are more gemmy than others. Their third album, Bandwagonesque, has the band hitting its stride with the classic “What You Do to Me.” From there things only intensify, arguably peaking with their magisterial Songs from Northern Britain in 1997 – there really isn’t a weak cut on the whole record. Not that subsequent releases weren’t great: both Howdy! and Man-Made contained a host of great songs. Their last release, Shadows, appeared in 2010 but the band’s Facebook page reports them mixing a new album in late September 2015.
Picking out just a few songs to highlight from TF’s career is a daunting task. “I Don’t Want to Control You” and “Start Again” from Songs from Northern Britain sound like the Bryds meets the early 1980s new wave era, while “It’s a Bad World” from the same record is built on a great riff.
Teenage Fanclub also have some great acoustic songs, like “If I Never See You Again” from Howdy!
“Dumb Dumb Dumb” from the same album bounces the intro electric guitar strum from speaker to speaker to hypnotic effect.
Finally “Only With You” from Man-Made opens with a lovely solo piano to build to into a great song with shimmery vocals. Only With You