1990, Music

A Catholic Education (1990) by Teenage Fanclub

I’ve heard so much about Teenage Fanclub the power pop/jangle pop band that I really, really wasn’t ready for this. And because I really wasn’t ready for this I might have overrated it a tad. Such is life.

In North America we often lose sight of the Brits in the story of alternative rock. We do this both because most of us don’t consider ’90s britpop to be alternative, strictly speaking, but also because we just pay zero attention to the British alternative rock bands of the ’80s. And make no mistake, there are more than a few. I didn’t expect Teenage Fanclub to be one of them.

The music here is very solid alternative rock, usually hiding a power pop influence – in that sense like a far less noisy, less arty Nirvana – with a sound that is really not far off of numerous contemporary American bands. I’ve read that this album presaged grunge a bit but that’s not true at all: grunge already existed in summer 1990. But they’re certainly kindred spirits of the poppier grunge bands. (I mean poppy in the sense of “pop” music not poppy in the sense of commercial music.) It’s notably way less arty than much grunge, though. (That to me is a minus.)

The songs are catchy enough and the aesthetic is, ahem, grungy enough, that this works quiet well. I think about how many bands like this got signed in, like, 1993, and I chuckle a bit to myself. Because these guys write better songs than most of those bands. (Though that’s not a surprise given their later reputation.) And this music comes without the deliberate attempt to alienate present in so much contemporary American alternative rock. (Though that’s a feature of that music for me. I wouldn’t mind a couple of freakouts.)

Pleasantly surprised. Especially since I was expecting like Scottish Big Star or something.


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