Scotland’s Teenage Fanclub might sound like a cheesy pop-punk band at first glance of their name, but upon actually listening to these twelve bright, glimmering pop tunes, it’s plenty clear they have a lot more depth than any Blink-182 clone can offer.
Their presence is a bit understated, and it’s likely going to take a few listens to Man Made to really let all the subtleties sink in, but once they do, it’ll open you to wealth of real pop beauty. Their sound is not at all removed from the previous six studio efforts, so it’s not going to attract anyone who didn’t like their back catalog, nor push away long-standing fans, but what it will do is keep in with their tradition of wonderfully textured songs that stick with you long after they’re over.
They don’t stick initially, though. It’s going to take a little bit of work on your part to give these songs a chance to be drilled into your head, and with a bit of patience, they will. It’s because of how laid back and wistful the vocals are, that nothing stands up and grabs you right away, but there’s beauty in simplicity, as Raymond McGinley’s vocals are sublimely eloquent. He never strains to hit a note, never yells to draw attention to himself, knowing that the perfectly crafted pop tunes behind him will allow people to make that jump themselves. The instrumentation reminds of so many `60s pop bands in its carefree resolve and penchant for harmony. McGinley’s vocals glide right over top of it all in all their melodic glory, while the pitter-patter of the snare and slow moving chord progressions push each song along.
“Flowing” is a shining example of how delightful these songs can really be, as McGinely’s voice is so genuinely full of life, coming right off the heels of “Fallen Leaves,” where the band turns the distortion on and lets the guitar work come to the forefront over top of a crackling organ. The guitar tones are so full and rich that it just puts a smile on your face, and you can’t help but understand what you may have been missing to that point. These Scotsman are the epitome of brilliant songwriters.
Closing with a gorgeous ballad, “Don’t Hide” includes the most subtle use possible of the instruments until the chorus comes along, and they’re turned up to just the right pitch. An extremely well-layered and well-textured effort from the trio, showing that seven albums into their career, they haven’t lost a thing.