Teenage Fanclub is actually still a band, which makes it a little weird (perhaps unkind?) writing about them in a section called “From the Vault.” They’re even still writing the straightforward power-pop numbers for which they were momentarily famous. Although they have released some electrifying hits since, they have never made an album as powerful, perhaps even esoteric, as 1991’s Bandwagonesque.Â
For fans of rock ‘n”˜ roll, the honesty and simplicity of Bandwagonesque is still remarkable. Â
With a sound that falls somewhere between their shoe-gazing contemporaries My Bloody Valentine and the ’70s cult-sensation Big Star, Teenage Fanclub have always embraced — even flaunted — their influences. Â This has as much to do with their sense of play as their obsessive knowledge of guitar pop from the ’60s onward.
Though Fanclub are a little more subtle about actually naming their influences on Bandwagonesque (the follow-up to Bandwagonesque is simply called Thirteen: the lifted name of a favourite Big Star song), the opening lyrics from the album speak of a girlfriend “wearing denim wherever she goes” and “going to get some records by the Status Quo.” Â Song titles of later albums include “Gene Clark” and, my personal favourite, “Neil Jung” ”“ and if you don’t get that stupid joke, there’s a chance you might not “get” Teenage Fanclub.
Well, perhaps their record store nerdiness did them in, because their later albums quickly dwindled in popularity, especially in the United States. Their days of opening for acts like Nirvana were numbered (in an unrelated matter, Nirvana’s days were also numbered.)
Bandwagonesque represents the height of Teenage Fanclub’s artistic and commercial success. But that’s not to say the rest of their catalogue isn’t worth listening to.
Fanclub’s situation is not totally unlike that of their idol Alex Chilton, who had his great artistic success with Big Star but still crafted many phenomenal songs in later solo recordings.