The Glaswegian greats return with a gently autumnal album filled with their trademark melodic brilliance
Since the turn of the millennium, Teenage Fanclub have taken their time. There are at least five years between each album (six between Shadows and Here), and the suggestion was that the band was settling into a gentler routine away from the usual churn of record, release, tour, repeat.
Though the brief period between Endless Arcade and Nothing Lasts Forever was slightly compressed by the former’s COVID-induced delay, it still marks a notable acceleration from the Glaswegians. There’s certainly a renewed vim, perhaps brought about by the line-up changes that preceded Endless Arcade, leading to Gerry Love’s departure and Euros Childs’ arrival. Losing Love put an increased demand on Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley to up their quotas on the songwriting front, a challenge they seem to have enthusiastically embraced.
Aesthetically, Nothing Lasts Forever is very much in keeping with its predecessor, even beyond how the titles seems in conversation with each other. The fuzz-drenched 90s are no more, but this is a band that has made small accommodations over time, gently easing between phases rather than chucking it all out and starting again. Tempos have slowed, guitars are cleaner, and Blake and McGinley seem utterly in tandem, often sounding unified instead of one clearly leading the other.
There’ll always be a pang for the explosiveness of Gerry Love’s wide-eyed power pop songs, but that all still exists as it was before. Embracing what Teenage Fanclub are now is a rewarding experience, where autumnal jangle is the captain and The Byrds and The Beatles steer the ship.
On paper, calling the album Nothing Lasts Forever could imply a downhearted mood or a subtle sign-off from the Bellshill greats, but it’s more a message to seize what you can while you can. Overcoming hard times is a regular theme throughout. Opener ‘Foreign Land’ sees Blake moving on, hitting the road with only optimism for what’s ahead: “I wandered in the night but now I’m sleeping soundly”. The joyous ‘Back To The Light’ similarly finds him packing up at the end of a show and relishing the solidarity and camaraderie of the band.
McGinley’s contributions are similarly excellent. ‘See The Light’ is one of his finest songs, elevated by saxophone courtesy of the band’s occasional touring bassist Steven Black. The gently psychedelic ‘Middle Of My Mind’ seems to drift almost amiably in its fog of detachment. Closer ‘I Will Love You’ is one of the most elegant songs the band have ever released. Elsewhere, Blake seems to have been indulging in a bit of a Macca phase, if the piano-driven ‘I Left A Light On’ and ‘Self Sedation’ are anything to go by. Both are gentle reminders that few can match him for melodic loveliness.
Hopefully Teenage Fanclub continue this momentum. Maybe even step it up a notch. After all, every autumn should start with an album like Nothing Lasts Forever.