Tuesday, June 07, 2005

More ammo for the power pop revival front

Teenage Fanclub - Man-Made
Teenage Fanclub - Man-Made

As I've mentioned before, the power pop faves of the nineties are getting it back together for another run. Matthew Sweet (who just keeps on keeping on,) Brendan Benson, Sloan, The Posies (see below) and representing the Scots, it's Teenage Fanclub.

Already released in the UK, Man-Made makes it's US debut today one Merge Records (thank you Merge!) Recorded in Chicago with Tortoise leader John McEntire, there were a lot of interesting expectations with this recording. Would they go experimental, or would it be the straight power pop numbers with just a different recording approach/sound. Turns out it's the latter, to chagrin of a few, I imagine, but I'm not sure the Fanclub needs to mess around with a 7/8 time signature.

There's not a song that jumps out at you like most previous releases, but top to bottom, it's as solid as they've ever been, relying heavily on the three b's - The Byrds, Beach Boys and Big Star. Similarly, more then their recent releases (Howdy! & Songs From Northern Britain,) this one shines brighter and brighter with repeated listenings, with layers and subtleties slowly revealing themselves to the discerning ear. McEntire stripped out much of TFC's penchant for over instrumentation, stripping it down and now you can hear everything going on. The result is harmonies and guitar textures that feel warmer even in the face of the darker themes in the songwriting. You might say it sounds like the 70's AM radio staple America writing songs backed by Stereolab... and that's a good thing.

The three-headed songwriting monster that is TFC (perhaps they're more this centuries Crosby Stills and Nash then Big Star?) is at it again with Man-Made. Gerald Love, always the pop heart of the group, comes through with "Time Stops" and "Fallen Leaves." Roger McGinley weaves his lyrical web with "Only With You" and the closer "Don't Hide." As usual, it's Norman Blake who contributes the bulk here with a couple more great love ballads (the opener "It's All in My Mind" and "Flowing,") and adds a bit of shoegaze sugar with "Slow Fade." But he really hits a lyrical mark with the song "Cells," about "the slow decay" of life. ("Breaking down, cells, breaking down, no no no.") Couple that Six Feet Under homage with this from Rolling Stone:
Raymond McGinley's monogamous dedication "Only With You" seems destined for a future episode of Six Feet Under. Eerie and lovely, this is the sound of a band that's managed to mature with dark dignity.
- Rolling Stone
Couldn't have made a better segue.

Notes:
Posies have a new album coming out as well - Every Kind of Light
Auer's and Stringellow's comments make it sound like Stringfellow wrote a political power pop EP and Auer wrote a love song EP and they somehow combined the two.

5 comments:

drake leLane said...

Teenage Fanclub - Man-Made

* "It's All In My Mind" - Teenage Fanclub
* "Time Stops" - Teenage Fanclub
* "Nowhere" - Teenage Fanclub
* "Save" - Teenage Fanclub
* "Slow Fade" - Teenage Fanclub
* "Only With You" - Teenage Fanclub
* "Cells" - Teenage Fanclub
* "Feel" - Teenage Fanclub
* "Fallen Leaves" - Teenage Fanclub
* "Flowing" - Teenage Fanclub
* "Born Under A Good Sign" - Teenage Fanclub
* "Don't Hide" - Teenage Fanclub

MJAPA said...

Jon actually addresses this a little on his website www.jonauer.com
I think the quotes that have been focused on so far in the press give off the wrong idea what the record is as a whole.
It really is a very well rounded very cool record in my humble opinion. If it were all politics, I would not like it regardless of who is in the band. I don't do political.
I think there is a little sumntin for everyone here.

drake leLane said...

Good point... I didn't gather from the notes that the album was political, persay, it just sounds like Ken's contributions have that slant while Jon's don't, which is cool, because when Jon and Ken bring different things to the party, I always feel like I get more to eat and drink.

drake leLane said...

I like what I'm hearing so far from the Rykodisc e-card for the album here.

Amanda said...

Yesterday I heard a track from Michael Penn's new album...he's about to join the party as well, methinks.