Teenage Fanclub, the beloved Scottish band, is by all accounts, a legacy group. They may not be heralded as the influential and extremely consistent band they are, but their ability to routinely tour and release new albums is a direct result of their aging fan-base and the nostalgia and lingering pedigree of their early discography. But as far removed as they are from their 90’s college rock heyday, they remain undeterred, returning with another solid collection of what could now safely be considered “Dad-rock”.
The group, however, is a whole lot more than those labels give them credit for. The positive critical standing they’ve received dates back to their stint with Creation Records. During that time the band ushered in their particular brand of American-influenced power-pop to dorm rooms and hip movie soundtracks everywhere. Since then, while fans have been pouring over those early albums religiously, the band has quietly been releasing a steady stream of solid follow-ups.
Originally slated for release last year, as with most things, their newest album and its ensuing tour had to be postponed. Endless Arcade, like much of their work following their stretch with a major label, is another resounding success, with just enough minor tweaks to set it apart from the rest of the band’s work. The most notable change is the departure of founding bassist/vocalist Gerard Love; in his place is a new member, keyboardist Euro Childs of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci. Childs brings a looser feel conceptually to the album and his contributions, along with that of drummer Francis Macdonald, make up the structure of “Home”, the transcendent opening track. “Home” does a lot to set up the album, frontloading the LP’s best song and promising a new, refreshed Teeange Fanclub, albeit with a twist.
For the most part, the band lives up to that promise, contributing strong track after track and ensuring most of them sport something new. Although none of these songs match the initial standard the group set for themselves on the opener, “Endless Arcade” and “Everything Is Fall Apart “similarly do a good job at pushing the band towards their newer influences and highlighting the skills of Childs.
Of course, as with any “legacy act”, Teenage Fanclub still offers the sound that their fans are looking for. “Come With Me” and “I’m More Inclined” are classic examples of the kind of melancholic jangle-pop that the band built their career on. In that way, Endless Arcade serves its purpose – providing longtime fans of the band with new material that both furthers their critical clout and gives the band more room to grow. Their newest album may not rank among their classic work, but when taken out of context, it’s a warm and revealing work, something that most other bands would consider their best.