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coverpic flag Scotland - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 11 - 09/16/97

Teenage Fanclub
Songs From Northern Britain

It's pretty obvious; these Scotsmen must've stumbled into the kettle when they were kids. The kettle holding that magic potion to make pretty pop-tunes, that is. You could call them Byrd-maniax or Little Big Stars, but nevertheless, it's quite hard, if not impossible, not to like what they're doing. And have been doing for the last 8 years. Songs From Northern Britain is album #5 from Scotland's finest.

The four Glaswegians - Norman Blake (vocals/guitar), Raymond McGinley (vocals/ guitar), Gerard Love (vocals/bass), and Paul Quinn (drums, who replaced Brendan O'Hare after Thirteen, their third album. What's wrong with drummers?!) (you should know, Håvard... - editor's note) - have been a quartet since they formed in 1989. This is their fifth real album, plus one rarities collection released the same year as their second album, Bandwagonesque of 1991. Which turned out to be their break-through both in Europe and in the USA (college-world), if not to the huge masses, then at least to a serious number of admirers of modern, intelligent guitar-rock. And of course to a massive music press corpse. Teenage Fanclub (from now: TFC) have also been building themselves a good reputation as a live act. They're such likely lads, with a good sense of humor, you simply can't dislike them. And; they've been working with Frank Black (well, he was a hero), former chief-goblin of Pixies-fame, resulting in an odd-ball Peel-session mini-album released two years ago.

Songs From Northern Britain is one of those albums from which you could swear that you've heard all the songs somewhere before. The twelwe songs aren't revolutionary, like sort of doing somersaults over history of pop & rock, but they fit well into the TFC song-book. Solidity, quality, and harmony. Without doubt TFC are housing three talented song-writers. On this album Gerard, Norman and Raymond has written four songs each. Some real democracy. After hearing Ain't That Enough I had to check twice on the cover if Roger McGuinn has been given credit as a writer. But don't get me wrong here. OK; they're pop-thieves, but everything's quite obvious. It's almost like every song is a tribute to one of their favourite bands. TFC may borrow bits of pop-songs from the 60's and 70's. That's fair by me. Let them do so, as long as they deliver their songs with such wit and charm as they do.

But! I must admit to be a bit bored, or tired, on my way listening through this record, because, well, everything sounds a bit too safe. It's not that all the songs sound the same, but the album is somehow too...nice. They should've thrown in some roughness, and been some more dare-devilish in the recording-studio. So, please, Teenage Fanclub; hang on to the teen-spirit. Don't end up to be some Adult Supporters Club.

Copyright © 1997 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

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

© 2011 Luna Kafé