It was 20 years ago today: Teenage Fanclub

August 31, 2010

I'll be otherwise occupied for the next few days, but I thought it would be fun during the blogging downtime to take a look back at 1990 and some of my favorite releases from that year from the perspective of two decades on. First up: My original circa '90 fanzine review of the debut album by the fine Scottish pop band Teenage Fanclub.

 

Teenage Fan Club, "A Catholic Education" (Matador) Eating:4/4]

These Scottish pinups could never be accused of startling originality—no band that reverently looks up to Dinosaur, Jr.’s third-generation Neil Young/Velvets pisstake could. But, as with Galaxy 500, there’s so much devotion and unbridled enthusiasm for guitar grunge angst that it’s hard not to be seduced, especially when the songwriting’s as strong as TFC’s.

“Everything Flows” is an anthem of self-doubt for a generation of 20-year-olds that’s hopelessly confused and uncertain of how to make their mark in a media-saturated world where it seems that everything’s been done so often that it’s all been reduced to cliché (“I’ll never know which way to flow/Set a course for I don’t know”). Matador honcho Gerard Cosloy says the killer “Everybody’s Fool” is anti-apathy rock, but there’s nothing life-affirming about it: The enthusiastic choruses of “I don’t f—ing care” are more indicative that TFC revels in being marginal, that they’re more interested in getting fucked up than in fucking the system. Not that I’m complaining; I’m willing to simply wallow in the guitars any time when the guitars sound as great as these.

It’s been a while since anyone made so much noise with so little flash. The Jesus and Mary Chain updated Velvets feedback, drawing inspiration from “Heard Her Call My Name;” TFC does the same for “What Goes On.” They’re from the school that realizes that what made the Velvets (and the Stones, for that matter) so f—ing great was rhythm guitar. “A Catholic Education” has not one but two awesome, churning instrumentals, the likes of which ain’t been heard since the Sonic’s Rendevous Band or Destroy All Monsters.