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Teenage Fanclub's first album since 2005's Man-Made, coming so soon after the death (in March) of Alex Chilton, has the warmth and poignancy of a tribute, even if writing and recording was all wrapped up by then. As with everything they've ever done, homage is paid here to the American "B" boys: The Beach Boys, Big Star and The Byrds. As they say, it's too late to stop now. And besides, why mess with a winning formula?
That formula–gently strummed acoustic guitars, the occasional sunburst of electric noise, aching chord progressions and billowy harmonies worthy of CSN&Y–works pretty well on Shadows. On album opener Sometimes I Don't Need to Believe in Anything, it works fabulously, the guitar thrum and crisp beat creating a sort of organic motorik pulse, before the heavens open and the chorus breaks through like sunshine after the rain. It is as great a track as any TFC have ever recorded and suggests that Shadows will be a Grand Prix, even a Bandwagonesque, of a tour de force.
It isn't quite that good, that consistent. Baby Lee is predictable TFC fare, and The Fall is distinctly average. But fourth track Into the City is another goodie, its shimmery guitars recalling Roger McGuinn's timeless flights, the gorgeous harmonies making you wonder what a Big Star album might have sounded like if Bell and Chilton didn't hate each other's guts.
There are a couple of departures here, albeit hardly radical ones. The piano- and strings-led Dark Clouds recalls baroque posters The Left Banke and is one for pretty ballerinas. Sweet Days Waiting bears the influence of 60s soul–Jerry Butler could have sung it. Album closer Today Never Ends is a Harvest-era Neil Young ballad with slide guitar and yet more of TFC's trademark lexicon of lustre ("the sunlight pours in through my window..."). But the two other tracks that rival that awesome album opener are the ones where the band trys to outstrip The Byrds circa Chestnut Mare: Shock and Awe, all chiming guitars and keening chords, and The Back of My Mind, which is so LA 1970 you can almost taste the smog.
Shadows, then, features three or four tunes that merit inclusion on a Fanclub Best Of, and is overall a strong if less than startling collection. It's unlikely to win this year's Spin magazine critics' poll, as Bandwagonesque did, famously beating Nirvana's Nevermind. Still, it's good to have them back. Now, back to that opening track... --Paul Lester
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Top Customer Reviews
Obviously if your looking for Flying Lotus style experimentation in a Teenage Fanclub album look elsewhere. Their strength is always in their songs with song writing duties generally shared between Norman Blake, Gerard Love and Raymond McGinley. As you would expect Roger McQuinn style harmonies predominate and songs packed with warm melodies and killer hooks. To be fair on this album they do branch out with the sumptuous piano ballad "Dark Clouds" and a guest spot for Euros Childs from Welsh wonders Gorky's. Other highlights includes the melodic rocker "Shock and Awe" which is vintage Teenage Fanclub and is guaranteed to bring an extra skip to your step, the truly lovely "Into the city" which is one of their best songs in a long long while and the slow rolling mesmerising country ballad "Today never ends" with echoes of Crosby Stills and Nash is excellent. Opener "Sometimes I don't need to believe in anything" demands no more than you lie back and stare into blue skies and be enveloped by its warmth.Read more ›
This LP promised the same thinness and on the first 2 or three listens I was a little dissapointed - nice noises but where's the passion?
THEN, all of a sudden, the tunes, the harmonies, the instrumentations and the lyrics hit you all at once and you realise this LP is SWOONY - light, airy, colourful and sweet, it is mature fanclub, packed with glistening moments and with an even spread of achievement across the personnel. The absolute platinum stand -out for me is Gerry Love's gorgeous "Shock and Awe" - as lovely and blissful a song as he has written in the past 10 years.
If you had left the Fannies behind, come back. This is a sweet and tender delight of a record that will be the soundtrack to your summer and maybe your autumn too. Think of it as the third part of a trilogy with the softer spoken "Howdy", "Man-Made" and now "Shadows". Heavenly stuff.
Teenage Fanclub, blah, blah, blah, Big Star, blah, blah, blah, harmonies, blah, Byrds, blah ,blah, Crosby, Stills & Nash (aargh!).Read it all before several times over the years. Look, I love 'em as much as the rest, but the simple facts are that they appear to have donned carpet slippers and smoking jackets years ago, and this album has come and gone as per their previous 3 or 4 efforts. Where the hell has the fun gone? I'm not ready yet to delve into early 70's Calfornian boredom anytime soon, and would describe this latest offering as, pretty, but pretty boring, really.
As a veteran of over three dozen live shows, the chaos and energy that they used to generate live has also gone. I remember a couple of really standout shows on the Bandwagonesque and especially the Thirteen tour with support from The Posies and Superchunk that were a wall of glorious guitar noise. Nah, it's all gone bandy, and lo, the Fannies have slipped into the mists of time, and a band once truly exciting appear to run out of ideas and volume.
Thanks for the memories, chaps, this album won't be high amongst them though, as it highlights a band that is a shadow (no pun intended, but I'll take it!) of its former self. If this is what it's come to, knock it on the head fellas...
unique. I really enjoyed this album but I have to say, its not
quite as unique as previous Fanclub releases. Memories of the
Eagles even came to mind as I listened, and thats not such a
great thing. The Byrds yes, Eagles no thank you.
The songs here seem slower than most of Teenage Fanclub's
previous endeavors, except possibly their last album "Man-Made".
"Man-Made" was more psychedelic in its approach and effect,
thereby making the slower passages more interesting because of
the psychedelic flourishes.
"Shadows" has a few psychedelic moments, very very few. For the
most part it is very straightforward rural California style late
60's and early 70's pop rock. Yes, "Songs of Northern Britain"
was similar, but also more upbeat and vibrant, with some faster
The first track on Shadows, "Sometimes I Dont Need to Believe
in Anything", is suprisingly written by Gerard Love. This is a
big change because Gerard's songs are usually the melodic upbeat
songs that we really look forward to on Fanclub releases. This
is not the case anymore, as Gerard has drifted off into never
neverland not only on this track but on others as well. However,
I really enjoyed this first track very much with its noisy
background atmosphere and spacey vocals. An Excellent track.
Gerard's change of pace is not a bad thing here, its just
different. As track 2 kicks in with "Baby Lee" we would expect
THIS song to be a Gerard Love composition. Not so, as "Baby Lee"
is primarily a Norman Blake track, and the most melodic track on
the album.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The weakest songs are mostly the contribution of Norman Blake: When I Still Have Thee, Baby Lee (an unfortunate choice for single) and The Back of My Mind. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Simon Turner
I need to state my credentials here , listening to this album as I am, some four years after its release, like someone who has just eagerly grabbed a favourite band;s new album. Read morePublished 22 months ago by James Clarkson
Teenage Fanclub never fail to deliver the goods.Well crafted tunes,delightful melodies with a sing a long chorus in many of the songs. Read morePublished on 14 Feb. 2012 by Hotpick
I'm a huge fan of Teenage Fanclub and this is a solid, though not spactacular, release. Lovely melodies, more hooks than a tackle box, an understated folky vibe--the record easily... Read morePublished on 8 Jan. 2011 by sennj
For listeners already familiar with Teenage Fanclub's sound through the years, this album might seem like an old friend. Read morePublished on 9 Oct. 2010 by MJEH
The good ol' Teenage Fan Club, now 20 years into the business of releasing albums. From the grungey/grebbo Catholic Education to an established formula of soft, melodious,... Read morePublished on 13 Aug. 2010 by Stan FREDO
Its been 5 years since the last album but this has been worth the wait (although don't leave it too long til the next). Read morePublished on 30 Jun. 2010 by Mr. S. Marshall
There are some real highlights on this; the very pop sound of "Baby Lee", the harmonic melody of "When I Still Have Thee" the dreamy "Sweet Days Waiting" and the fuzzy noise of... Read morePublished on 26 Jun. 2010 by A. Macfarlane
Worth the wait..., I don't know. I grew up with this band through university and beyond, however, Man-Made and Shadows have disappointed and frustrated me, there are some good... Read morePublished on 18 Jun. 2010 by Northline