Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Teenage Fanclub exude well-worn warmth on Nothing Lasts Forever

"Nothing Lasts Forever"

Release date: 22 September 2023
Teenage Fanclub Nothing Lasts Forever cover
21 September 2023, 09:00 Written by Joshua Mills

When some bands do exactly what you’d expect of them, it can be uninspiring or disappointing.

Not so with Teenage Fanclub, whose latest collection of tried and tested power pop is a comfy cable knit sweater of an album as the cold season approaches.

Just as you’d be miffed should a Kathryn Bigelow film eschew adrenaline-pumping action or a Philip Roth novel fail to deliver broiling righteous indignation, any fan of the legendary Scottish outfit would be baffled were Nothing Lasts Forever not to provide the usual stuff. When you’ve cracked the blissful, jangly sound as well as they have, you could make these songs on cruise control.

Impressively, though, they’re by no means operating in a lower gear – this is the spikiest, most energetic material they’ve recorded in a while. Uptempo opener “Foreign Land” is a pacy, retro jaunt that’s not so much hook-laden as comprising nothing but hooks. The band piles up all the instruments they love - jangly acoustics, ripping lead lines, a screeching organ for the sake of it. “The past’s a foreign land / I did my best to understand” they sing wryly – they’re not exactly a band who’d find their old selves unrecognisable.

The chunky “It’s Alright” provides another highlight, breaking out into a twin-guitar solo like an especially laid-back Thin Lizzy. The urge to look back on the past is a motif of the LP. “Forget the paradigm, go back in time” is the key phrase of “See The Light”, before a chugging 70s saxophone joins the mix.

Singer and guitarist Norman Blake has cited American author Raymond Carver as a creative influence. There’s a recognisable melancholic obliqueness on “Middle Of My Mind”. A self-sabotaging ballad, its protagonist is “lost in thought / my mind gets caught”. Like Carver’s ephemeral prose, Teenage Fanclub reveal little in the way of clear narrative, building songs around throwaway thoughts and aphorisms.

Not to suggest a lack of ambition in the preceding tracks, but when the mood strikes them, as it does on sprawling closer “I Will Love You”, the band are still capable of real surprise. Perhaps their most strikingly different tune since Bandwagonesque’s cod-metal “Is This Music?”, the lengthy, spacey intro is finally swamped by some of the fullest harmonies on offer. The title serves as a nervous confession after much build-up. It’s a crystal clear moment of soul-bearing on a record that thus far shies away from anything this direct.

Few bands have aged so gracefully as Teenage Fanclub. Self-producing and releasing their last several albums has allowed them to go completely their own way, old pals meeting up in the studio and doing whatever they want. Nothing Lasts Forever, but Teenage Fanclub probably could if they so wished.

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