Teenage Fanclub – Here

The nineties: a creative low point for rock and pop music in this part of the world, or a vibrant, fertile period that produced some of the most enduring music of the last forty years?

The answer to that question will probably depend on where you stand on Britpop, a sometimes garish explosion of bands all desperately grasping to be part of something that guaranteed front covers of the all powerful music magazines.

Scottish guitar pop outfit Teenage Fanclub never quite fit comfortably into that whole Britpop scene.  They did their own thing and perhaps as a consequence of that, they went on to become one of the most revered bands of that era while most of their contemporaries slipped quietly away to bargain bin oblivion.

While Bandwagonesque (1991) was their breakthrough record, it was Grand Prix (1995) that saw the band reach their creative zenith; the chiming guitars and heaven sent harmonies perfectly distilled into a near perfect guitar pop album. After the release of Howdy in 2000, there was a marked slowdown in new releases; tenth album Here arrives after a six year hiatus.

The good news is that the template remains the same; it’s all there – jangling guitars, well crafted melodies and those trademark effortless harmonies. Teenage Fanclub have always been resolute and doggedly single minded in their approach to making music – there are three songwriters in the band, but you would be hard pressed to pick out who has written what on Here.

Messrs Blake, Love and McGinley have an almost telepathic similarity in terms of song writing styles; chords, riffs and melodies, shunted back and forth until they have that trademark Fanclub stamp. Opener ‘I’m In Love’ is an urgent blast of old school Teenage Fanclub, and sets the tone for a record bathed in a new found sense of optimism and contentment.

Listening to the instantly recognisable chords of ‘Thin Air’ conjures up that warm, comforting feeling of returning home.   ‘The Darkest Part of the Night’, ‘It’s a Sign’ and ‘Steady State’ are all highlights on what is arguably their finest long player since ‘Songs from Northern Britain’.

Perhaps it is that air of contentment that permeates this record or the rarity of new music from one of our most cherished bands that makes Here such a welcome, heart-warming delight.

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)