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Teenage Fanclub: Shadows

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Teenage Fanclub

Album: Shadows
Label: Merge

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Few modern rock bands have ventured as far from their original sound as successfully as Teenage Fanclub, which started out as a gloriously sloppy pop-grunge act, then embraced the room-filling dazzle of Big Star and The Byrds, and lately has been forging a hard-to-classify style that combines the sweetness of ’70s soft-rock, the loveable fuzziness of early-’90s Amerindie, and just a hint of the old abrasion. The band’s scattered influences coalesce beautifully on “Sometimes I Don’t Need To Believe In Anything,” the opening track of Shadows, TFC’s first album since 2005’s superb Man-Made. Written by Gerard Love, “Sometimes” blends taut, propulsive guitar with the breathiness of Bread, then adds a chorus that blooms unexpectedly. Love also contributes the lovely “Into The City” (which sounds like a hybrid of The Feelies’ dual-guitar textures and The Pernice Brothers’ dizzy pop), while Norman Blake scores with the crazy-catchy “Baby Lee” and “The Back Of My Mind,” and Raymond McGinley sounds a hazy, regretful note with the gorgeous “The Fall” and “Today Never Ends.” Shadows is a touch too twee at times, but more often, it impresses with its understated elegance and classically constructed melodies. This is a work of rare craft, from a band now inclined to leave behind something timelessly beautiful.