As their career has progressed, Teenage Fanclub have settled into an increasingly comfortable spot, delivering collection after collection of harmony-infused, melodic songs that very much give their fans what they want. There's been a stability and consistency over the years that has possibly resulted in them being taken for granted, a seemingly ever-present musical landmark on the horizon. In this context the departure in 2019 of Gerry Love, bassist and writer of some of the band’s most beloved material, came as an unwelcome and somewhat jarring surprise, momentarily moving them out of the shadows for a reason other than their heartening, endearing songs.
New music from Teenage Fanclub settles into the world like the first days of spring--subtly, quietly, with a sigh of relief. For fans of the long-running Scottish power-pop band, the defining qualities of their music--chiming three-part harmonies, breezy major-key melodies, and dreamy, lovesick lyrics--have come to feel so pleasant and familiar that measuring their current work against their past can seem a little beside the point: Could it be sunnier? Did it feel more exciting when you were younger? These concerns melt away within a few notes: Just open your windows and let it in. In a career defined by consistency, Teenage Fanclub's eleventh album, Endless Arcade, is their first preceded by a sense of rupture.
For about three decades now, Glasgow's own Teenage Fanclub have been a dependable force in the indie pop universe. Driven forwards by three incredible songwriters, the band seemed to weather everyone that was thrown at them - from the tornado that was Creation Records onwards into the 21st century. But change comes for us all, eventually. A shift in line up finds Teenage Fanclub embarking on subtle evolution on new album 'Endless Arcade', their first with Euros Childs as a full member.
Following Gang of Four's incredible debut album Entertainment!, the successor Solid Gold initially can feel less penetrable, immediate, and a bit more obtuse. Following founding guitarist and only constant member Andy Gill's untimely passing in February 2020 just before the pandemic hit, Matador acquired the rights to reissue Gang of Four's early catalog from Warner Bros. (which originally released them).
Teenage Fanclub have always been a band you can rely on for big harmonies, big tunes and songs that evoke the radiant joy of The Byrds or Big Star. Long-term fans may approach this 10th album with some trepidation after the departure of founding member and bassist Gerry Love in 2018 but the indie veterans from Belshill, on the outskirts of Glasgow, have long been masters at giving their crowd what they need at the same time as subtly exploring new territory.
To that end, Endless Arcade chimes and jangles much as you would both want and expect.
Photo by Donald Milne Endless Arcade by Teenage Fanclub Endless Arcade is the first Teenage Fanclub since Gerard Love left the band, ironically splitting over a disagreement about touring that happened just before touring became impossible for all bands everywhere. So, while Teenage Fanclub has always been three-songwriter band, it is now down to two with Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley each accounting for half this album's 12 songs. In other adjustments, Dave MacGowan has switched over to bass and Gorky's Zygotic Mynci's Euros Child is now a full-time member of the band.