‘Nothing Lasts Forever
In the end, Teenage Fanclub chose repetition, not innovation. Teenage Fanclub avoids the exits and stays on the familiar highway of safety, never exploring what else exists beyond the freeway of predictability.
From touring with Nirvana in the early ’90s to embarking on a new post-pandemic tour in 2023, Teenage Fanclub and their 10 previous albums have covered ground. Unfazed by the time that’s passed, the new record Nothing Lasts Forever continues to operate in somewhat of a vacuum, never chasing trends or flashy new music sounds – instead maintaining their own pace.
Nothing Lasts Forever is your kid’s friend that you never have to worry about when they hang out. It’s friendly, affable, and inoffensive, staying between the lines of not too emotional and not too dull. The songwriting, however, is a duck swimming in a pond – calm above water but working busily beneath the surface. The structure and instrumentation is mature and patient, with band members getting satisfaction from small changes and classic bass hammer-ons instead of a flurry of notes.
Even when it’s loud, it’s muted. The few times the cymbals let loose and smash, it’s hushed and hidden behind the duo of lead vocalists and songwriters Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley. At this point in their career, it would be weird if they DID take a sizeable experimental hop. The band is the crisp Spring air on a long road trip; they are the trusty granola bar that is always there for you when you’re hungry. It may not be something you always reach for, but it always provides comfort and delivers precisely what you expect.
Food metaphors aside, Teenage Fanclub knows what they do best and unabashedly leans into it. Despite a smattering of Beatles-influenced piano-licks (looking at you, “Self-Sedation), and the occasional slowdown on tracks like “Middle of my Mind”, the album is one singular vibe. That vibe is mid-tempo and even-keeled, drawing on the nostalgia of bands from the 60s and 70s that played sunny, carefree stages to the masses. These sounds, like those found on the Travelling Wilbury’s-esque “Back To The Light,” are uplifting and completely content with basic chords that build slow, acting like an uncomplicated nursery rhyme that finds a way to convey deep meaning through simple storytelling. With three of the song titles including the word ‘light,’ the band from Scotland, consciously or not, uses music to tell their personal story of there always being light at the end of the tunnel. As T.S Eliot rightly said – “the end is the beginning.”
In the end, Teenage Fanclub chose repetition, not innovation. It’s hard to blame them – their formula has enticed listeners for decades. However, for an undeniably talented group of musicians, they may have wasted the opportunity to not have to play it safe. They’ve more than earned the right for some creative license and a step in an unusual direction. At this point, it’s clear that’s simply not what they want and that they prefer to continue on the path they’ve been walking for a decade. But hey, nothing lasts forever.
Order Nothing Lasts Forever by Teenage Fanclub HERE
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