The 10 Best Teenage Fanclub Songs
In their 30-year career, Teenage Fanclub has mastered the art of melody and harmony. In previous posts, I’ve gone through Teenage Fanclub’s history and their discography. Now all that’s left to do is give you a taste of their music.
Here are 10 of the best Teenage Fanclub songs, in chronological order:
#1 – ‘The Concept’ (Bandwagonesque, 1991)
“She wears denim wherever she goes / Says she’s gonna get some records by the Status Quo, oh yeah…” So starts one of the first and most-loved singles that’s representative of their early sound — loud, fuzzy and melodic. The way Norman Blake hits that “yeah,” going down an entire sixth — people just don’t do that in songs. And only groups such as the Beach Boys produced harmonies of such quality at such a young age.
#2 – ‘Star Sign’ (Bandwagonesque, 1991)
Bassists usually have the best ears for melody — why I have no idea, but Gerard Love is another in a long line of them — Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson and Justin Currie, to name a few. After playing with us with guitar effects for over a minute, Love takes off at 80 mph, but the descending bass line keeps up with it, and Love mimics the line with his own unforgettable melody. It’s surprisingly sophisticated for a third album.
#3 – ‘Hang On’ (Thirteen, 1993)
The song begins like another one of their feedback-laden jam sessions from their first album, A Catholic Education, and you start to roll your eyes and swear to never play it in front of your mother, but about 30 seconds in, it modulates out of control and builds a la “A Day in the Life” until it blossoms into a melodic phrase sung by Love. They give us more full harmonies in the chorus that have you running to get your own four-track and do it yourself. This is a surprise, and it only hints at more to come from the group.
#4 – ‘About You’ (Grand Prix, 1995)
Teenage Fanclub is known for their strong starts, putting powerful songs at the beginning of their albums, and Raymond McGinley’s first attempt at an opener is classic: Three-part harmony, easy words to sing along — it’s one of his best and deserves to open one of their greatest albums.
#5 – ‘I Don’t Want Control of You’ (Songs from Northern Britain, 1997)
Eclectic and sweeping, “I Don’t Want Control of You” grabs you by the heart and doesn’t let go for 3 minutes and 8 seconds. With Byrds-like vocals and acoustic touches, it’s the group at its most vulnerable, which probably didn’t endear them to their hardcore fans at the time.
#6 – ‘Near You’ (Howdy!, 2000)
So beautiful. I’ve talked about the complexity of “Near You” before, but my words don’t do it justice. From the flowing lines of the piano to Love’s plaintive cry, “I get near you but I never seem to reach you,” it’s a perfect pop song, and one that should get more attention in their catalog.
#7 – ‘Dark Clouds’ (Shadows, 2010)
Blake turns baroque with this graceful piano-driven ballad. With gentle touches of strings, he paints an uplifting, motivating picture as he promises, “Dark clouds are following you / But they’ll drift away / I watched the night turning into a day.”
#8 – ‘I’m In Love’ (Here, 2016)
A grown-up, mature sound from a band in their 50s, “I’m In Love” is a warm ode to stability and complacency. Blake sings, “Well, it feels good with you next to me / That’s enough, that’s enough,” and the song evokes the uplifting mood of being in love. A true treasure.
#9 – ‘I Have Nothing More to Say’ (Here, 2016)
This offering from Love accidentally hints at his imminent departure. Love testifies with an atmospheric painting that swims through textures and moods. It’s so unlike anything the band has ever done, and it hints at his work with Lightships, his project after Teenage Fanclub.
#10 – ‘The Sun Won’t Shine On Me’ (Endless Arcade, 2021)
One bright spot in the otherwise boring Endless Arcade is this short, sweet, ballad in which Blake confesses, “I have lost any sense of belonging / I am drifting like ice on the sea.” It’s a somber contrast to the uplifting arpeggios in the accompaniment, and as a result, you don’t know whether to smile or cry.