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Reviews

Teenage Fanclub
Shadows Julian Marszalek , June 11th, 2010 11:35

With the passing of the years and an attitude to work politely described as "relaxed", Teenage Fanclub – the band for whom reaching for the stars was eschewed for feet being planted firmly on the ground – realise more than most that they're never going to achieve the dizzying heights of Bandwagonesque (the album, lest we forget, that pipped Nirvana's Nevermind to pole position in more than one end-of-year list back in 1991). Whereas such an earthbound realisation would be enough to poleaxe most bands, it's served to allow the band to do what they do best: craft songs of shimmering beauty, chiming chords and an emotional honesty that resonate with a warm familiarity. Moreover, Teenage Fanclub are masters of melody; forgers of tunes that take up residence in your head and refuse to go away.

But let's be honest here – Shadows is hardly an album packed with surprises. The figures of The Beach Boys, Big Star and The Byrds still cast their alliterative shadows over the band's output and their love of harmonies, acoustic guitars and melodic counterpoint remain their stock-in-trade but these are hardly charges to be held against them. Indeed, these are things to be celebrated and if anything, Shadows evokes the feelings of an overdue homecoming.

The pacing of the album errs on the acoustic and it's a sound that matches the reflective nature of the album. Teenage Fanclub may not be getting any younger but as they themselves acknowledge, there ain't no shame in getting older. "The leaves on the trees shield my eyes from the sun," sings Raymond McGinley on 'The Fall', "but the leaves that I see they won't be there for long". So while the musical eyebrows may fail to rise, there is a dignity entrenched here that eludes so many of those who refuse to come to terms with life's inevitabilities.

Pleasingly, Shadows contains a number of stone cold classics that could sit comfortably in any part of their lengthy career. The achingly gorgeous 'Baby Lee' seems so easy, so deceptively simple yet if that was the case then why hasn't it already been written? Elsewhere, 'When I Still Have Thee' possesses the ability to reduce grown men to blubbering wrecks thanks to their almost unequalled skill in blending raw emotion with a killer tune that even your postman can whistle on his rounds.

So while Shadows is light on revelation, its strength lies in its re-assurance and, like being rocked to sleep in the arms of your loved one, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

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