Teenage Fanclub – Howdy!

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 7)

Gerry Love left Teenage Fanclub in 2018. As far as I am concerned, the band ended at that point (though they have released one album since then). I feel about this the way I feel about a Church without Marty Willson-Piper and New Order minus Peter Hook. These individuals are too important to my personal sense of what each band fundamentally is to be able to accept their absence. Love was Teenage Fanclub’s best and most consistent songwriter.

What I Think of This Album

At this point, you know what you’re getting with Teenage Fanclub and you’ve either come to terms with that or you haven’t. There is no sense wishing they would write another “Everything Flows,” “Radio,” or “Neil Jung” – they’re just not going to. What they are going to do is showcase their craft, and deliver a pretty good set of sparkling but more or less sedate ’60s influenced pop songs.

In truth, this is a borderline TFC album. The songwriting split has been cemented by now as well, so you can also plan on getting an equal number of Gerry Love, Norman Blake, and Raymond McGinley songs. This time, the songs are even sequenced so there is a consistent pattern of songwriting origin.

For the first time, though, I find Blake to be the clear winner of the intra-band rivalry. The best song on the album, and a TFC classic, comes from Blake’s pen in the form of the stunning “Straight & Narrow,” which has strings, harmonies, an insistent drum part, and a gold medal melody. Blake gets playful on “Dumb Dumb Dumb,” mostly via the speaker-jumping guitar that forms the skeleton of this heartfelt and ultra-melodic tune; the outro is very nice, too. “Accidental Life” has a melody that swells and crests, with absolutely gorgeous harmonies, tumbling drums, and a subtle lap steel guitar. Meanwhile, “If I Never See You Again” is a short, simple folky song that almost counts as filler.

Love’s best offering is the sweet, harmony-stuffed “I Need Direction,” a poppy song of yearning with a very ‘60s organ break. “Near You” is improved by some psychedelic production touches and offers more energetic than usual drumming from Paul Quinn. A guitar intro that sounds like a ticking clock introduces the brass-filled “The Town and the City,” while bongos are the first striking feature of “Cul de Sac.” Neither song is anything special, and overall, this is Love’s weakest set of contributions to date.

McGinley remains the junior partner, with the thinnest voice and the less interesting songs. “I Can’t Find My Way Home” has a decent chorus but not much else to commend it, and also goes on way too long. “Happiness” is improved by a morose organ but again, McGinley does little with his opportunity. Perhaps his worst outing is on the very annoying “The Sun Shines From You;” the chorus is the best part. I don’t know who authorized McGinley to take up almost seven minutes of run time with “My Uptight Life,” but that was a very poor decision. McGinley’s tracks really bring this album down.

Honestly, we are talking about one phenomenal Fannies song here, three more really good songs, one decent song and then . . . . nothing.

The Best Thing About This Album

“Straight & Narrow” by a mile.

Release Date

October, 2000

The Cover Art

This is a horrific album cover. I can’t believe people get paid for shit like this.

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