Teenage Fanclub - Endless Arcade
Hey, hey, we’re the Fannies, and people say we fanny around!
I love the Teenage Fanclub – if you’ve ever seen them live or heard them interviewed, they seem like the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. Plus like The Monkees, I feel everyone should have their favourite Fanny (mine’s Norman!).
Every five years or so, a new Teenage Fanclub album comes. Is it another deranged experiment with sound? No. Is it wildly different from the last album? Almost certainly not. Is it any good? Undoubtedly. In terms of reliability, they are the Status Quo of indie.
That’s not to say they haven’t evolved, they certainly have, but it’s been a very gentle curve over 11 albums, incremental growth that took you with them. If you played A Catholic Education alongside Endless Arcade, you can see the same band is playing, just older and more experienced, less “bang it out” indie.
All that said, it’s been an unusual period of change at the ‘Club – one of their triumvirate of songwriters, Gerry Love, left in 2018. So instead of four songs each from Gerry, Norman and Raymond McGinley, we get six each from Ray and Norm. As I said though, don’t expect a radical rethink with experiments in grime, R’n’B and J-Pop. It’s resolutely still the Fannies.
Opener Home is a 7-minute Crazy Horse mid-paced workout, with a fuzzed-out guitar coda. It’s a spirted jam that assures you everything is still very much Fanclub - those Neil Young, Big Star and Byrds influences are very much there.
But there are noticeable changes – Euros Childs (of Gorky’s Zygnotic Mynci) plays fantastic keys to the fore of title track Endless Arcade. Similarly, he seems to drive the zig zag turns of Warm Embrace.
Overall, the band feel reinvigorated after the rather tepid Here from 2016. Everything Is Falling Apart could be about the band’s issues, but one suspects not – that would be too crass for them, leave that sort of nonsense to the warring Gallaghers. It’s upbeat and assertive – “don’t be afraid of this life”.
The Sun Won’t Shine On Me is a California 60s waltz, with its harpsichord and a double guitar solo which comes from nowhere – it will brighten up anyone’s day.
My favourite is Back In The Day, where age, nostalgia and self-doubt are pulled into a beautiful strumming summer tune. “I can’t seem to find the peace of mind that I knew back in the day” Norman sings, but he needn’t worry on the basis of this great album. My only niggle – I wish they’d knock out another Star Sign or Everything Flows. But it's probably me that’s stuck looking back in the day…
For fans of: Big Star, The Lemonheads, Sugar, The Pastels, The Go-Betweens, The Byrds, Neil Young & Crazy Horse