Teenage Fanclub – Endless Arcade
On Endless Arcade, Teenage Fanclub sound refreshed, renewed and remarkably like themselves
There's a troubled backstory to Teenage Fanclub's eleventh album, Endless Arcade. Songwriter Norman Blake's personal circumstances suddenly changed, and founder member, bass player and fan favourite Gerry Love left in 2018. Meanwhile, new boy Euros Childs arrived with a bagful of keyboard tricks and new organ/synth sounds to invade the trademark jangle of the Scottish craftsmen.
Not that you'd know it listening to the music. Everything still flows beautifully: guitars chime, drums run on perpetual motion and the singing is top drawer. The lyrics, particularly those of Blake, are a giveaway that times are changing, but the music concentrates on the magic only great songs can offer when explored by a group of musicians with great taste and time to waste. A favourite waste of time on this record appears to have been to allow the music to stretch out more than usual, with guitar wig-outs, synth solos and room to breathe.
Opener Home sounds like Kurt Vile has joined Crazy Horse as its inspired languid lethargy moves glacially across seven minutes. The urgent Warm Embrace is the Fannies having a romance with The Attractions (could Childs become their Steve Nieve?), while gorgeous album closer Silent Song meanders mournfully over a beautiful bottom end. Standout The Sun Won't Shine On Me starts like a long-lost 60s classic, before waltzing through Laurel Canyon, Love (the band) and lessons on love to try and break your heart. It nearly succeeds, too, as an enormous double-tracked guitar solo takes the song on a left-turn that Eels' E would be proud of. Comparisons to this and that aside, it's an album that sounds like Teenage Fanclub.
Conceptual experiments are great for some bands, especially those in need of a restart, but in truth no such drastic action was required here. Teenage Fanclub sound refreshed, renewed and remarkably like themselves as Endless Arcade reveals an old group with some new tricks sounding in rude health. Here's to them.
Listen to: Home, The Sun Won't Shine On Me, In Our Dreams