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Teenage Fanclub:: Man-Made (Album Review)

Following the decks-clearing exercise of 2003’s A Short Cut to Teenage Fanclub compilation, the Glaswegian jangle popsters formed their own PeMa label and decided they’d go to Chicago to make their next album. They recruited producer John McEntire (of Tortoise), whose influence seems to have resulted in an intimate, semi-minimal approach, where every sound is carefully matched and graded and anything superfluous has been ruthlessly expunged. The punkadelic blast of early Fanclub has given way to a lyrical folk-pop feel, although they do permit themselves a voyage into scuzzy space-rock in Born Under a Good Sign, and the band’s always excellent harmonies sound preternaturally warm and smooth. If the sparse approach to sound and instrumentation is thoroughly 21st century (as in the glassy shimmer of Cells or the REM-ish Nowhere), the vocals are squarely in the Byrds/Beach Boys tradition, at times almost outshining their role models. It’s a difficult album to dislike. (Review by: Adam Sweeting)