Nine studio albums into a career that began in Glasgow, Scotland, way back at the dawn of the '90s, and which provided one of the enduring masterpieces of that decade with the timeless, endlessly chiming, Big Star-inspired power-pop of "Bandwagonesque," it is all too easily to take Teenage Fanclub for granted. (Are they, like, even still around, man?)
Indeed, this blogger is way late in getting around to "Shadows," the group's first new album in five years, released by that venerated indie Merge last June. And that seriously is my loss, because the disc is as slyly seductive and wonderfully enchanting an example of the often underrated genre as I've heard in the new millennium.
The powerhouse songwriting trio of Gerard Love, Norman Blake, and Raymond McGinley don't significantly alter the formula they established in the Year Punk Broke; there is, perhaps, a little less vintage Alex Chilton here and a little more post-"Pet Sounds," "Friends"-era Beach Boys. But they capture that sweetly melancholic, borderline brooding, alternately sunny/cloudy vibe of a love on the verge of either taking off or falling apart as well as any of the heroes they so lovingly reference. And "Baby Lee" and "When I Still Have Thee" honestly are as fine as any tune they've ever given us.
Teenage Fanclub, "Shadows" (Merge) Rating: 3.5/4
Following last night's performance, Teenage Fanclub plays a second show at Lincoln Hall tonight at 9 p.m. after an opening set by Radar Brothers. Tickets are $20.