Though they’re approaching thirty years together as a band, in many ways, Teenage Fanclub has not aged a bit. They’re still as sonically sweet as they were in the early nineties, and their pop hooks are still some of the very best. With their first release in six years, titled Here, the Scots are reminding us why we desperately need them in our lives. And it isn’t just because we’re in the midst of a strong nineties-nostalgic period. Their harmonies are still smooth and cool, and their melodies are still guaranteed to make you giddy.
There’s a natural serenity that comes from Teenage Fanclub’s sound, like a quiet burst of serotonin. Each measured and careful multi-part harmony moves through you like one fluid voice, a rainbow of pure joy and love that feels like it’s pulsing steadily in your veins. “It feels good/With you next to me/That’s enough…I’m in love with your love,” they sing on the album’s lead single “I’m in Love”. There may be no better way to describe how you’ll feel when you listen to this song – full of love. Norman Blake, Raymond McGinley and Gerard Love combine their vocals in a powerful, sugary surge, and leave you feeling better than before.
Here is a fuzzy guitar-laden blast, even when it gets a little melancholy. There’s still a thread of hope woven through it all. “I Have Nothing More to Say” has a beautifully sad groove, psychedelic and dazzling. “I Was Beautiful When I Was Alive” is an equally silky and tranquil trip with synthy keys. And “Steady State” keeps this aesthetic going almost hypnotically and slow, but steady as its title suggests. “Erase what I’ve become/Let myself succumb/To feelings of love,” they repeat as the song fades out like some kind of hazy dream.
These softer moments are standouts on Here, but there are still plenty of those faster-paced, pop rock earworms we have come to love and expect from Teenage Fanclub. “Live in the Moment” jumps right into its driving tune – a glossy fast car of a melody with lyrics about staying present and embracing your impulses. “Hold On” boasts one of Here’s catchiest tunes and reinforces the album’s overall positive message. They sing: “I’m alive one more day/Yeah I’m alive/Think of the ones you love/What they want/What they need/Run away from the misery…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…The simple pleasures are all we need.”
There are many moments like this one on Here, a record that serves as a poignant reminder to live life to the fullest, but never feels sappy or inauthentic. Thanks to Teenage Fanclub, we remember the importance of being grateful, for life and for the sweet music they’re still creating.