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TEENAGE FANCLUB

Here (Merge)

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The first Teenage Fanclub album in six years launches straight into the good stuff. After two short lines of a brief jangle strum figure, album opener "I'm in Love" kicks off with a line that feels very much like the band addressing its fans directly: "You came to me with your arms open wide," sings Norman Blake, and how right he is.

Every time Teenage Fanclub put out a record, it feels like a declaration to the ever-diminishing, underserved community of devotees of not just their music but the whole school of melodic, crafty, record-collector, nerd-before-it-was-optional, moony romantic pop-rock of which TFc has always been the valedictorian: We're still here. So are you. Let's celebrate with something small and perfect.

So it is with Here, which falls in with the post–Songs from Northern Britain tradition of hushed, almost miniature songs crafted with the band's signature delicacy and detail. Though it's hard to get past "I'm in Love" without repeating seven or eight times, the album's other great triumph, "I Have Nothing More to Say," and a handful of other beautifully harmonized, economically arranged gems make it worth the effort. But of course it is. It's Teenage Fanclub. The songs are pleasing as sounds, and then you look a little closer and realize how finely made they are, and you just love them all the more.

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The dominant theme in the lyrics is hard to miss: gratitude for what we have. As the world continues to feel like a slow-motion disaster in progress, and the internet keeps overquenching our thirst for bilge water, what a joy it is to be reminded that some people are lucky enough to actually feel lucky, to love their lives and families, to still get to be a band 30 years later, and to make beautiful records like this one.

We should all be so lucky. recommended