Artist – Album: Teenage Fanclub – Songs from Northern Britain
Released: 29th July 1997
Sounds Like: Good enough for Nick Hornby
Teenage Fanclub are hardly ever mentioned when it comes to lists of the great bands of the nineties, or the best Scottish groups, or even the most successful Big Star tribute acts. Which, frankly, I find appalling, as over the length of their near 25 year life they have continuously showcased their innate ability to churn out brilliant pop hooks and gorgeous, Californian harmonies. They’re one of my favourite bands and their power pop orientated, sunny and melodic sound is exactly what I want from most of my music.
That being said, I have to admit that Songs from Northern Britain is not one of my favourite albums. Although it is one of Nick Hornby’s, so if you too are a fan of Arsenal, lad lit and becoming less and less funny with each book you write, then it may be the one for you.
By the time of this, their sixth album, the Fannies had all but eschewed their rocking, electric sound and had favoured the acoustic indie folk part of their game. As a result, this record, although abundant with excellent songs (‘Ain’t That Enough’ particularly is dazzling; it’s no exaggeration to say that I would rank it amongst the greatest love songs of the last 20 years), lacks a bit of an edge. Other bands compensate for their almost-twee sound with humour – a la Belle and Sebastian – or interesting experimentation, like The Magnetic Fields or They Might Be Giants, but neither of those options seem to be in Teenage Fanclub’s repertoire. Instead, we have twelve songs that are about being in love, and not the horny, let’s-pretend-we’re-bunny-rabbits love or the dramatic, I-could-die for-you-love, or even the twisted, I’ll-be-watching-you love, but the comfortable, let’s-have-hot-chocolate-and-snuggle love. Which is just a bit too lovely.
The upshot is that today’s album is stocked full of brilliant songs but ultimately it makes little or no lasting impression on the listener. Nick Hornby aside.
Albumaday... rating: 7/10
1. Start Again – 3:11
2. Ain’t That Enough – 3:42
3. Can’t Feel My Soul – 3:21
4. I Don’t Want Control of You – 3:08
5. Planets – 2:50
6. It’s a Bad World – 4:20
7. Take the Long Way Round – 3:25
8. Winter – 3:46
9. I Don’t Care – 3:06
10. Mount Everest – 5:15
11. Your Love Is the Place Where I Come From – 3:29
12. Speed of Light – 3:53
Listen to ‘Ain’t That Enough’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdeqYx-9-AQ