Sunday 4 September 2016

Here by Teenage Fanclub

It's here, well almost, Here, the new album by Teenage Fanclub is out on Friday 9th September and it is gorgeous; as positive, reflective, life affirming and heart warming as you would hope. What's more, it's bursting with energy, harmonies and guitars. Here is all the things you may already love about Teenage Fanclub and more.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder and I am delighted the band are back. In many ways, as a devoted fan of the band, it also feels like they are back and on a mission. A single, video, promo, lengthy tours....

Getting back 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.
Norman Blake

Here was recorded in 3 locations; initially at Vega in rural Provence, then Raymond's home in Glasgow before mixing at Cloud Hills in the industrial heart of Hamburg. Messrs Blake, Love and McGinley each have 4-songs across the album.

Lead single I'm In Love opens the album. I originally blogged about it HERE and over the last month or so I have grown even fonder about the song. In well under 3-minutes the Fannies reminded us all why we love them so much. Norman is fine form, reflecting and realising what is important with melodies flowing over urgent guitars. The promo film is stunning.

There is pain in this world
I can see it in your eyes
It's so hard, to stay alive
At the edge of the knife

But it feels good, when you're close to me
That's enough, that's enough
We will fade into history
I'm in love, with you love

Gerry Love's Thin Air bursts into life and gives you a warm shot to the heart. A smile spread across my face within seconds. Gerry Love is like a fine wine, getting better with each album. The chorus is pure Love; heartfelt romance, guitars and the sound of a trumpet somewhere in the background.

The subsequent McGinley guitar solo is a joy. Is Here his best album for guitar playing? The subsequent breakdown showcases how all the band can play. It is a joy to listen to.

Let the future open up its mystery
Feel the change in my heart and soul

Raymond's guitar playing is outstanding throughout Here. His playful lyrical ability is at its best on Hold On with all kinds of simple philosophy and advice.

Think of the ones you love
And what they want and what they need
Run away from the misery
Of those who flatter to mislead

Hold on to your life, to your dreams
Don't get lost in the schemes
Just hold on to your dreams
Hold on to your head, to your heart
Never stop, you can start
Just hold on to your heart

The Darkest Part Of The Night is a Blake beauty that you'll find yourself singing on first listen thanks to a flowing melody and chorus. There is a blistering McGinley guitar solo before we return to the chorus - twice for good measure. Norman's voice is beautifully soulful and true and he has the listener hanging on every word.

I long to see the sparkle in your eyes

You've been living in a bad dream baby I know
Lost to the light
You've been living in the darkest part of the night

I think in your twenties and thirties, you fear middle age; you fear becoming older. Maybe you can fight it and try to stay as an internal teenager. 
I like to think we play to our strengths, to our understanding of life. Folk music, blues, it's not necessarily made by young people. A lot of music I find myself drawn to is made by people over 40 years old. It might not be on the cover of the NME but it can still deliver a truth.
Gerry Love

Did Gerry Love warm your heart with Thin Air? Expect that warm feeling to be extended with the gorgeous I Have Nothing More To Say; a song that is perfectly formed. The riffs, the effects, the hushed vocals, another great McGinley solo over a gorgeous flowing groove. Love's work with Lightships extends to Teenage Fanclub - stunning.

I need dawn I need assurance
I have nothing more to say
In the morning I'll be brighter
If I leave my ways beside her

I Was Beautiful When I Was Alive is a dreamy McGinley piece that takes off 3-minutes in with McGinley repeatedly asking What are you gonna do, what are you gonna do about about it? as the beat comes in along with psychedelic backing vocals. Really look forward to hearing this live.

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.
Raymond McGinley

The First Sight is more Gerry Love genius. It has a kind of French/Euro feel to it, the beat and the flow of the music, exploding into the chorus. McGinley delivers a searing and soaring solo before the band get into what sounds like a gloriously complex groove. Horns make their appearance again, lifting things even higher - will they have a horn section on the live dates? That would be amazing!

Today I'll rise to the clearest light of the sun
To simpler ways I'll return
I'll return

Will I ever get to see, will I ever get to see first sight of a heart that's true

At 5 minutes and 9 seconds long there is time for another McGinley solo at the end, just when you think the song might be coming to a conclusion he takes it to a glorious extended climax.

Norman's Live In The Moment has a real zip and zest to it, with the chorus containing a beautiful fast flowing vocal melody. It is fantastic to hear the band in truly outstanding form.

Live in the moment
You know that nothing this good could last forever
Embrace the here and now
For now we're here and now together
Feel good not knowing
About tomorrow and what's following may bring
We only think about today

Possibly the album seems like it's all about life. Gerry's not quite 50; both myself and Raymond are now. You do start to focus on mortality a bit more as you get older.
Norman Blake

Steady State is a slow paced dreamy Raymond song that begins with a riff that sounds really familiar and then beautiful lyrics.

Wake my love, we've dreamt enough
So wake my love the steady state of life is calling

It's A Sign is the sound of upbeat summer pop. There are doo wops and ba ba na's and the sound like they are having real fun with the backing vocals. It's a Gerry number and has many of his hallmarks stamped all over it.

Raymond McGinley's With You is quite simply beautiful. The first verse is reflection and pondering before a chorus full of the recognition of true love and need. The breakdown after the short second verse into a glorious instrumental complete with organ is sensational.

The world is wrong, the world is right
And you are right when you are wrong
Life is short, life is long
With you I'll see it

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.
Gerry Love

Connected To Life brings the album to a reflective conclusion. You could initially mistake this for a Raymond song. It is actually Norman and in many ways the lyrics reflect the entire album - love and life.

Once in a while I can see you
Looking so young in your eyes
My darling I just want to see you
Connected to life

Raymond goes for for sounds rather than riffs during the instrumental section here, enhancing the dreamy and moody feel to the song. The closing section takes it even further.

I will not deceive you
I only want to please you
I hope I'll never see you disappear 
Into shadows into night
Disappear into shadows, into night

So there you have it; Teenage Fanclub in 2016. A truly brilliant album. I'll be blogging about the bands London show next week.


The Swede said...

Thanks for the run-down, which has ramped the anticipation levels up a few more notches. Looking forward to catching up with the band in November.


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