Returning with their 10th studio album, Scottish power pop giants Teenage Fanclub come back from a six year hiatus with Here, their most subtle and easy going album in their 25 year plus career. Back in the yesteryear of 1991 where the word “grunge” was at a cultural zenith in every imaginable way, long haired, flannel wearing, apathetic bands that relied on guitar feedback as much as they did songwriting were in abundance from both sides of the pond. Some rocketed into success and became cultural mainstays while most faded into obscurity, in the case of Teenage Fanclub neither of these were the case. By the time their second album Bandwagonesque had come out, they were projected to be “the next big thing” by nearly all music critics and fans, even beating out Nirvana’s Nevermind for the number one album of 1991 in Spin magazine. Their sweet pop songs drenched in feedback and distortion gained universal acclaim, leading Kurt Cobain to call them “the best band in the world”. Unfortunately, 1993’s Thirteen did not fare so well, effectively ending their buzz stateside.
Six albums later and 23 years later, the cult band come back with Here, a subtle and lush piece of music that is more of a testament to their love of guitar pop they’ve crafted for 20 years more than anything else. At this point in their career, Teenage Fanclub have nothing to prove and no one to impress. No trends to follow, no sophomore slump worries, and no worries of trying to attract new listeners. This is the sound of a band that is completely and utterly in their own world.
Each track on the album follows the template of sweet, concise, and straight forward pop music that is meant to burrow in your brain and stay there. Shimmering chords, bright organs, and simple bass lines and drumming are the parts that build Here, and all are equally beautiful as they are elementary.
Much like the music, the lyrics are unadorned and focus on everyday subject matters, but are executed in a way that doesn’t make them seem trite. Songs like “Live in the Moment” and ‘Hold On” deal with topics such as enjoying life as it is now, and not giving up on your passions. Teenage Fanclub have never been a band to write about life’s complexities or try and tackle very serious topics in their music, but for the sunshine soaked guitars and melodies, it makes perfect sense.
For seasoned Teenage Fanclub listeners, Here is nothing they haven’t heard from the group before. However, for those who haven’t heard of them before, it’s a great introduction into their sound, and may convince people to look back in their discography and discover some of the finest power pop crafted in the past 30 years.