Long-running Scots deliver more pop purity
Even after two decades as a band, it has to be intimidating when Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake brings in another hook-laden pop masterpiece, and then Gerard Love or Raymond McGinley have to offer something that matches up. Like a world-class pitching rotation, nobody wants to be the guy to give up all the runs and blow a winning streak. And so nothing about Shadows, the band’s 10th outing (and eighth since Bandwagonesque, the grunge-era classic that briefly turned the Big Star-loving Scots into flavors-of-the-month), should surprise longtime fans of their impeccable craftsmanship. If the album has a weakness, it’s too much sedate, midtempo consistency and not enough power in the power-pop; many tracks blur together, and the production ensures that tasty instrumental moments—like the multi-guitar outro on “The Back Of My Mind” and the violin on “Dark Clouds”—don’t really stand out. Still, the pop landscape is littered with folks who wish they could deliver one or two tracks as good as the dozen found here.