Teenage Fanclub

I’m not selling out my imagination, I’m a citizen of the human nation.
—“I Was Beautiful When I Was Alive,” Here

Six years used to be a lifetime in rock ’n’ roll. Kids driven by the urgency of youth form bonds, plug in, play gigs, find a label. Acclaim, exhaustion, over and out.
Teenage Fanclub’s early years were propelled by that kind of frantic energy (thankfully without the flameout). As outliers of the sound of young Scotland’s second wave, they released five albums in their first six years together. The foundations of their national-treasure status were already laid.

Inevitably, as the years go on, time seems to stretch and things slow down. The tenth Teenage Fanclub LP—Here—arrives six years after the release of 2010’s hugely ac- claimed Shadows (described by Uncut as “the sound of a great group ageing gracefully”). One has to ask: what took them so long?

Gerard Love: “I find that as you get older, everything expands. When you start out, the nucleus of the band is so tightly bound, you’re living in each other’s pockets. Later on, you move away from each other and then everything around you—distance and time— just expands. Life gets in the way.” Raymond McGinley: “It does actually feel like ages between records. Once you’re a certain way in, the way it works in my experience is once you’re taking a long time making it, you’re going to take a long time to get back out again.” Norman Blake: “Shadows came after a five-year gap; this one is coming after a six-year gap. Getting back together to work, even after all these years, does feel a lot like coming home. Thinking about it now, we really should get together a bit more often.”

Not for one second is Here the sound of procrastination or headscratching. It’s the effortless work of a band entirely confident in their own craft—the consolidation of nearly three decades of peerless songwriting and almost telepathic musicianship. Recorded with the band’s soundman David Henderson alongside regular drummer Francis Macdonald and keyboard player Dave McGowan in three distinctly different environments (initially at Vega in rural Provence, then at Raymond’s home in Glasgow before mixing at Clouds Hill in the industrial heart of Hamburg), it’s a record that embraces maturity and experience and hugs them close.

Raymond: “We’ve been working together for a long time; we’ve probably used most of the studios in the UK over the years. We’re conscious of not repeating experiences that we’ve had before. For us, it’s about trying to get something new out of each place we go. If you’re always trying to make something original, it makes sense to go on a journey—a physical one—to try to make the record feel different.”

As ever, song-wise the Fanclub present a textbook representation of democracy in action, the record offering four each by Blake, Love, and McGinley. From the almighty chime of opener “I’m In Love” (“We will fade into history, I’m in love with you love … And I like your trajectory, I’m in love with you love”) through the ecstatic soul-search of “The First Sight” (“Will I ever get to see the first sight of a heart that’s true?”) and the paean to unerring friendship “With You” (“I will hide with you from sadness, and bad philosophy / I will laugh with you at madness, and learned stupidity”), Here is a collection of twelve songs about the only things that truly matter: life and love.

Raymond: “Lyrically, I think it’s a coincidence that the songs hit on similar themes. We all write individually; there’s no formal discussion about what we’re writing. I always like to think anything’s possible when we make a new record, but because of who we are and how we work, there’s always going to be a strong continuity.”

The Love Language

The Love Language, initiated by Stuart McLamb, is a fortunate by-product of the North Carolina native's rudderless mid-20s, where a tempest of breakup, inebriation, and incarceration found the abandoned songwriter embarking on a storage-space recording project to slow his seeming disintegration. The growing body of emotional fight songs, committed to MP3 with a high-school era multitrack recorder, became postcards from exile, a way to let his friends and former flames know he was getting along, battered but not beaten. The self-immolating beauty of the budget correspondences was exhausting and triumphant; McLamb's dalliances with rejection and redemption would be minted in a self-titled debut on Portland independent label Bladen County in March of 2009.

Soon afterwards, the mighty ensemble band version of The Love Language-a dysfunctional symphony of musical vagrants-disbanded to pursue personal projects. McLamb, who had roamed the state since recording The Love Language, moved back to Raleigh where Libraries engineer/producer BJ Burton adopted the one-man band and helped harness the extraordinary might generated during these sessions. Among the moments captured on Libraries are Spector-esque walls of reckless sound, cavernous drums, middle-school percussion, and moody swells of stringed instruments, all decorated hastily with stray leads, which bleed beautifully all over everything.

The effective average of McLamb's madness and Burton's discipline rendered an album in the classic sense, in which no song is expendable and no passage is without purpose. With Libraries, McLamb transitioned from a guy who could write a good album to an individual who can maintain a good band. The sooner we listen, the sooner we may figure this whole love thing out.

Eric Bachmann

Former leader of Archers Of Loaf (defunct since 1998) who is currently recording with Crooked Fingers (basically himself and a rotating line-up). He also released his first solo album on Saddle Creek in 2006.

He was also one of the musicians to accompany Micah P. Hinson, for his album "Micah P. Hinson And The Opera Circuit". In which he played the Saxophone. He also arranged most of the orchestral pieces (strings) on three of Micah's albums.

$25 Adv, $28 Day Of

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