Twelfth album from re-energised Scottish guitar melodicists sees them look forward with hope and positivity.
Over the last twenty years esteemed Scottish guitar melodicists Teenage Fanclub have generally delivered albums at something of a moderate pace, taking their time to allow songs to fully present themselves then proceeding at a painstaking pace to record and release them. However, recent developments seem to suggest that could be about to change.
The last few years have been a period of relative upheaval for the band with the exit of founding member Gerry Love in 2018 and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci man Euros Childs becoming a permanent member in 2019 (which itself caused a bit of internal role-shuffling). They released Endless Arcade back in 2021, their first album of the post-Love era and have spent much of the subsequent years touring. Now, they return once more, seemingly re-energised and more prolific than ever, with Nothing Lasts Forever, their 12th album.
The album follows a similar format to Endless Arcade in that it has an equal number of songs from two remaining songwriters Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley. In short, it’s another exercise in refinement, consolidation and upholding songwriting standards while looking forward with hope and positivity.
Endless Arcade saw Blake address the break up of his marriage but here his songs suggest a rediscovered stability as he follows creative routes that have served him well in the past. Opening track Foreign Land sees him indirectly address the future, putting any past troubles behind him. It’s Alright sees him in similar reflective, reassuring mood as he sings “there’ll be no need for worry now, it’s alright”. Like many of the moments on the album it projects a certain sense of middle aged contentment, the band emphatically not trying to pretend to be something they aren’t. Self-Sedation bounces along effortlessly, another examination of human feelings set to music, Blake this time singing of going “from a breakdown to a breakthrough”. I Left A Light On was released as a single last year but slots in seamlessly here, striking more of a bittersweet tone.
McGinley’s contributions provide similar levels of joy. Tired Of Being Alone offers another shaded, gentle look at human relationships and he cleverly turns the song around with a nice repeated outro. See The Light has a soulful feel, seeing him rejoice in wordplay. It’s one of three tracks to feature the word light in the title, something the band have explained wasn’t co-ordinated, but perhaps is just a subconscious reflection of their more positive outlook. McGinley’s other songs, Falling Into The Sun and Middle Of My Mind confirm that their quality control is arguably higher than ever.
They both save their best moments until the end to ensure the album closes with two resoundingly direct emotional hits. Blake’s euphoric Back To The Light is three minutes of pure joy, offering logic-defying levels of comfort, catharsis and simplicity. When he sings “for a while there I was blue, now I’m walking next to you, you turned me round and led me back to the light” it’s hard not to feel emotional at his newfound happiness.
McGinley’s I Will Love You closes the album, an exquisite seven minute opus that offers intimacy, depth and relief. It’s easy to find oneself deeply immersed in these songs and for those who have been familiar with their music for some time they’ll further strengthen the personal relationships held with each songwriter. It’s fair to say that long term fans will greet Nothing Lasts Forever with warmth and delight but even when assessing it with a more critical eye, it’s hard to avoid thinking they’ve rarely sounded better.