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coverpic flag Scotland - Full Moon 106 - 05/23/05

Teenage Fanclub
Man-Made
Pema / Merge (US)

It's always good to have Teenage Fanclub back with a new record. Like meeting up with a good friend. A friend with whom it's like... 'snap!' Giving this feeling of immediate connection, no matter how long it's been since last time you met. Teenage Fanclub (TFC) has been around since the late 80s. They formed in 1989, and released their debut, A Catholic Education, the year after. Man-Made is their 7th album (not counting the Jad Fair collaboration Words of Wisdom and Hope of 2002). As the cover sheet states, Man-Made is "Played, sung and generally put together by Teenage Fanclub". TFC are (like they almost always have been): singers/guitarists Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley, singer/bassist Gerard Love, and drummer Francis McDonald - the original drummer who joined the Pastels, and was replaced by Brendan O'Hare before the debut album (Fun facts: O'Hare, later a Mogwai, was replaced by ex-Soup Dragon Paul Quinn in 1994. Quinn left TFC in 2000, and McDonald reentered his old band). With Man-Made they once again return with their simple but ever efficient formula of instant poppy guitar rock. Always polite and hats off to their inspirations: The Beatles, Flying Burrito Brothers, Phil Ochs, Badfinger, Big Star, the Byrds and Gene Clark, to name some of them. But - mind you - they also sound like Teenage Fanclub! Which is a sign of quality.

This time they've been to Chicago, recording with John McEntire, making this album, well, I don't really know, but maybe sound a bit more crisp and distinct. From the nice and kind opener "It's All in My Mind" the album points out to be quite lite and velvety. This keeps on through the nex pair of songs, and tops with the very fine "Save". Then follows "Slow Fade", being a more vintage TFC power-pop song with somewhat more speed and punch. The beautiful "Only With You" is up next. A tender pop song with McEntire adding some tasty piano tapping. "Cells" and "Feel" are also songs showing certain pop quality, while "Fallen Leaves" is more rougher sounding and pleases me more with its more 'naughty' guitars, as a contrast to the smooth vocal harmonies. "Born Under A Good Sign" is the toughest song on the record, and sounds very late 1960-ish within its pop-blast. As ever with TFC there's a lot of delicate guitar works. Details, bridges, solos. And TFC know how to time close to perfect (which means good and/or tough sounds/effects, played not too long) solos. After the mild blow-out the quiet "Don't Hide" closes the album. Nice and easy. Like that. Like TFC know how to - with elegance and grace.

The very good 2003 best-of-compilation was neatly entitled Four Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty-Six Seconds: A Short Cut to Teenage Fanclub. Man-Made are Two Thousand Five Hundred and Seventy-One more seconds of blissful, crisp'n'honey-coated pop. It's a collection of 12 tasty spring rolls, making Man-Made TFC's best album since Grand Prix.

Copyright © 2005 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Teenage Fanclub articles/reviews: Here, Howdy!, I'm In Love, Shadows, Songs From Northern Britain, an interview with Gerard Love.

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