Sometimes albums come out and for some reason or other they’re just not given the appreciation they deserve. Or sometimes great albums come out, are enjoyed, but then unfairly forgotten, while others become beloved classics. In this new feature, Reevaluated, I’ll take a second look at great albums that deserve to be remembered and cherished but for some reason just aren’t. This week’s pick is Glasgow-based Teenage Fanclub‘s 1997 album Songs From Northern Britain.
Though Songs From Northern Britain was hardly an ignored release – becoming their highest charting album in the UK; named by Nick Hornby as one of his favourite albums; receiving glowing reviews – when people hear about Teenage Fanclub these days, the album that gets all the attention is 1991’s Bandwagonesque, and mainly because it edged out R.E.M.‘s Out Of Time, Nirvana‘s Nevermind, and My Bloody Valentine‘s Loveless for Spin’s Album Of The Year title, in a choice that today seems ludicrous. While Bandwagonesque is still a great album, today it sounds somewhat tame and dated.
Songs From Northern Britain, on the other hand, sounds like a power-pop lovers wet dream, with track after track of big hooks and gorgeous harmonies. Musically and lyrically it’s better than Bandwagonesque while also featuring better (less-dated-sounding) production, and overall it’s more consistent. Tracks like “Ain’t That Enough” and “Take The Long Way Round” in particular simply glisten with pure harmonic pop glory.
Admittedly the album does sound a little dated – but only a little – and all of Teenage Fanclub‘s singers always had kinda blandish voices. But sometimes great songwriting overcomes all obstacles, meanwhile all the gifts in the world often can’t make up for poor songwriting. Songs From Northern Britain is a stellar case of the former, and should be the album we talk about when we talk about Teenage Fanclub. And we should talk about Teenage Fanclub more to begin with, cuz they were and continue to be a great band.