I'm very glad that Teenage Fanclub have been in my life since 1991 when I discovered Bandwagonesque. Over 30-years! Nothing Lasts Forever of course, but the band are still here, still with me and still releasing music that fills me with a warm glow.
My love and appreciation for Teenage Fanclub grows stronger with every passing year. With every single, album and run of shows. With each anniversary of a classic album - happy forthcoming 30th birthday to Thirteen. With every new friend I make through a mutual love for the band - online or in person.
Welcome to the world, Nothing Lasts Forever, the 12th Teenage Fanclub album. It is a beautiful album containing 10 songs of love, life, loss, hope and light. If Everything Arcade was reflective, then this new album is looking forward.
Norman Blake, Raymond McGinley, Francis Macdonald, Dave McGowan and Euros Childs seem to have the bit between their teeth. This is the second Fanclub album in a little over 2-years. We were previously used to/frustrated by an album every 5 or 6 years.
Of course Fanclub albums are always worth waiting for. Maybe even more so, as we all get older. Speaking of which, the passing of time is a theme throughout the album.
Norman: “These songs are definitely personal. You’re getting older, you’re going into the cupboard getting the black suit out more often. Thoughts of mortality and the idea of the light must have been playing on our minds a lot. The songs on the last record were influenced by the breakup of my marriage. It was cathartic to write those songs. These new songs are reflective of how I’m feeling now, coming out of that period. They’re fairly optimistic, there’s an acceptance of a situation and all of the experience that comes with that acceptance. When we write, it’s a reflection of our lives, which are pretty ordinary. We’re not extraordinary people, and normal people get older. There’s a lot to write about in the mundane."
And so the album begins with Foreign Land Blake singing about time, the past and moving on. His heart beating brightly again after heartache and dark times. There is a delicious run on the bass by Dave before Raymond sets his guitar to stun on the instrumental section.
It's time to move along
And leave the past behind me
My heart was like a stone
But now it's beating brightly
Raymond's up next with Tired Of Being Alone sounding wise and wistful. Is it just me, or does McGinley's voice sound more melancholic with age. Raymond's always had a knack for finding a hook/mantra to close some of his songs and this is a gem.
Come with me, watch the seasons go
Summer nights with the sky aglow
Fallen leaves on the ground below
Let's walk outside in the falling snow
Light is a theme that runs throughout the album, with the word featuring in 3 of the 10 song titles. I Left A Light On was the first single taken from Nothing Lasts Forever, away back in April 2022 to soundtrack a tour. The piano and strings really give it a lovely post Beatles Lennon solo type feel. Blake singing of a love spiraling out of control, of being lost, but leaving a light on. It's heartachingly beautiful.
Raymond: "We never talk about what were going to do before we start making a record. We don't plan much other than the nuts and bolts of where were going to record and when. That thing about light was completely accidental; we didn't realise that until we'd finished half the songs. The record feels reflective, and I think the more we do this thing, the more we become comfortable with going to that place of melancholy, feeling and expressing those feelings."
McGinley consistently urges listeners to See The Light, an early favourite of mine. There is a gentle saxaphone in the background and plenty of warm and chiming guitars. There is a brief pause before a gloriously playful guitar solo.
I don't need to roam
I go back home
To see the light
It's Alright is positive and uplifting, like Norman has just had a big blast of sunshine happiness. The lyric to the second verse highlights he is moving forward; take a step into the mystery. Euros tinkling keys come through on repeated listens. Blake goes on to sing it's looking clearer up ahead and Raymond's guitar solo really fizzes. There is a classic going to the country lyric;
From city street
To country lane
Life is taking hold again
There'll be no need for worry now
Falling Into The Sun starts with some fuzzy psychedelia sounds before bursting into life, Dave's bass sounds fantastic. The middle section before Raymond's guitar solo is unexpected and delightful, as is the guitar.
There are echos of McCartney on the brilliant Self-Sedation. The freshness, the jaunty piano and the vocal melody. Blake delivers this beautiful line in the first verse;
I wake up before the dawn to start my dreaming of you
The double chorus is superb and there is another brilliant lyric I picked up on; from a breakdown to a breakthrough while the instrumental is pure Macca.
Chiming guitar gently launches Middle Of My Mind, Raymond sounds super dreamy. If the album is largely about moving on, for the time being, McGinley is lost in his thoughts.
Back To The Light sounded great as a single, it sounds even better as part of an album. Blake sings of finishing a gig and heading back to his love, highlighting his appreciation in the chorus and then throughout the rest of the song.
For you, you know I'd walk a country mile
Have your tissues ready for Raymond's beautiful I Will Love You that closes the album. The slow burning, near 2-minute, intro is beautifully dreamy, leading to McGinley singing about how his love will last through all that is wrong in the world. Until the end of time. Norman's harmonies on the chorus are gorgeous.
This is Teenage Fanclub at their best - heartfelt emotion, love and hope in the face of racisim, bigotry, pollution, capitalism ... the grim reality of modern day life. Love can help. Love can win.
I will love you
Until the sunlight decides to hide
I will love you
Until the planets collide
I will love you
Raymond: "In many ways, us-and-them-ism has taken over the world. I will love you is looking for positivity but its being totally fatalistic at the same time. This shit will exist forever, what are you going to do about it? I came up with the line I will love you/until the flags are put down/and the exceptionalists are buried under the ground while i was playing the guitar. I started wondering what that was all about and where it might go. It's looking for positives within a fatalistic, negative view of human nature."