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Teenage Fanclub - Endless Arcade (PeMa)

2 May 2021

One of the most highly anticipated releases of 2021 lands, and thankfully delivers. Teenage Fanclub prove beyond doubt, they still have a lot to teach us, and a lot to say. Endless Arcade, their eleventh, is just as alluring as the band’s previous outings. A collection of tracks which perfectly sums up our present existence, and equally provides the hope in our failing dreams. The Scottish outfit have blistered a trail which is both unique, and thoroughly captivating music for thirty-one years, rising above the ‘Brit-Pop’ named alternative acts of the nineties. In truth, Teenage Fanclub were always something special, and their longevity is a testament to that. 

Endless Arcade, the follow-up to the triumphant Here (2016), is an album of imagination, an offering that taps into our subconscious. The remaining Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley, are joined by drummer Francis Macdonald, keyboardist Euros Childs, and bassist David McGowan. With the departure of founding member Gerard Love in 2018, the momentum may have shifted slightly, but the message remains the same. Endless Arcade becomes a mission statement, to stretch the band further into the monotonous wasteland of music, and bring instead a more intelligent nature to songwriting that music fans deserve.

The first track “Home” is the spark of indie intelligence that acts as the scene-setter. With opening lines that circumvent our own, relatable lives- “Every morning, I open my eyes, I’m waking up to reality”. The music counteracts those feelings of loss and longing, mixed with apprehension, and instead soothes the stark lyrics  “I’ve been waiting for the sun to shine, but the sky is grey”. The melodic guitars create a positive backdrop, and simply shine, forging a theme from the start. A dramatic, musical shift into the tense, title track, and a further examination of existence broadens the scope of the album, and the arrangement here is simply exquisite. 

Further, and “Warm Embrace” has that pre-Tommy vibe of the Who, something that could mistakenly be pigeonholed from that era. It is a delightful adventure that leads to the melancholic “Everything Is Falling Apart”. A slower track that glides, and slowly builds and falls, but an attention grabber nonetheless. “The Sun Won’t Shine On Me” is heralded by a chiming guitar, and harmonies which give the song a divine structure. The aspects of mental health are front and centre- “With a troubled mind, I am in decline”, but the light in the darkness eventually emerges. Further into the human condition as the harmonies open “Come With Me”, an extension of the previous track but with a liveline reached out, and a more hopeful theme, providing a shelter from the reality of life. 

The slightly distorted riffs that begin “In Our Dreams”, slowly merge with melody, only breaking free when the space allows. More observations under the microscope, and perhaps the broken connection between reality and dreams can provide hope or hopelessness. “I’m More Inclined”, the first song created for the album, sees the band in a classic mode, with all the elements firing, and lifting. The band here examines faith, and our views of afterlife, and the love we leave behind. This, before knocking down a gear into the minimalist, and smokey atmosphere of “The Future”. A message about how fleeting time is, set against a beautiful and passionate rolling guitar.

Into the final hurdle, and “Living With You” gets the set firing again. The clever pause post-chorus adds to the absorption of the track and it’s lyrics, with an underwater-solo that melts into the structure. As Endless Arcade closes with the jangle of “Silent Song”, this very accomplished set of songs provides food-for-thought overall. The conceptual grace that examines our life, and the world around us stays with you, and that makes this album one of Teenage Fanclub’s finest. Endless Arcade will hold up, and remain steadfast with the passing of time. Where Here missed the mark for Scottish Album of the year for 2016, this release should smash that prize in a perfect world. Then again, this is not a perfect world, and Endless Arcade overall revels in the flaws of our ideals. 

2.Endless Arcade 
3.Warm Embrace 
4.Everything Is Falling Apart 
5.The Sun Won’t Shine On Me 
6.Come With Me 
7.In Our Dreams 
8.I’m More Inclined 
9.Back In The Day 
10.The Future 
11.Living With You 
12.Silent Song 

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