February 12, 2004

Test Spin: Teenage Fanclub

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Though they have not enjoyed a notable U.S. label push since the early ’90s, Scotland’s Teenage Fanclub have created an overwhelming oeuvre with their distinctive brand of dense, but melodic, power pop. After six proper albums and a recent collaboration with punk icon Jad Fair, TF make an admirable return to record stores with Four Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty Six Seconds: A Shortcut to Teenage Fanclub. The retrospective, recently released via Jetset, is the group’s first compilation and a disc that includes an ample sampling of tracks from each of their previous outings. Although their first album — 1990’s A Catholic Education — was notable for its thickly raucous sonics, (“Everything Flows,” included here, offers a glimpse of the early sound), TF quickly became heralded as preeminent practitioners of Big Star, Byrds, and Hollies-influenced indie-pop. After going AWOL from the grunge wars circa 1991, Gerard Love, Raymond McGinley, and Norman Blake — the only consistent members of the TF lineup — were subsequently largely ignored by critics and all but the most hardcore fans. Consequently, Four Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty Six Seconds will come as a revelation to those who haven’t bothered with the band’s most recent output. Besides the omission of some notables from their earliest work — “God Knows It’s True” is probably the most glaring — the 21 cuts offered should do the trick for most listeners. The disc is a worthwhile collection for fans and a good place to start for the uninitiated.

Archived article by Mathew Gewolb