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Man-Made
     

Man-Made

3.0 1
by Teenage Fanclub
 

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Can it be possible that Teenage Fanclub have been together for 15 years? The band have mellowed since their noisy 1990 debut, A Catholic Education, but, lasting through myriad musical trends, their basic sound -- melodic guitar pop -- has remained the same. It's the kind of music that never goes out of style, though the

Overview

Can it be possible that Teenage Fanclub have been together for 15 years? The band have mellowed since their noisy 1990 debut, A Catholic Education, but, lasting through myriad musical trends, their basic sound -- melodic guitar pop -- has remained the same. It's the kind of music that never goes out of style, though the Fannies' skill has grown with each new release. Recorded with frequent Wilco and Sonic Youth collaborator John McEntire, their eighth album has a clean, crisp sound that really plays to the band's strengths -- chiming guitars and exquisite three-part harmonies. Songwriting and lead vocal duties are democratically divided among the core of Norman Blake, Gerry Love, and Raymond McGinley; however they've become such a tight, homogenous unit it hardly matters who's singing anymore. That said, Blake is especially on top of his game here, with Man-Made containing two of his loveliest songs: the album-opening "It's All in My Mind" and the introspective, Byrds-y "Cells." Love, arguably Teenage Fanclub's finest voice and most consistent songwriter, is at his dreamy best on "Fallen Leaves" and "Time Stops." And McGinley, once the least of the trio, has come into his own over the last three records and turns in "Only with You," perhaps Man-Made's finest moment. Few bands deliver this kind of quality album after album. As long as they're making ones like this, Teenage Fanclub will still be welcome in another 15 years.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Matt Collar
Once hailed as the second coming of Big Star, the trio of singer/songwriters who make up Teenage Fanclub -- Norman Blake, Gerard Love, and Raymond McGinley -- have attained the status of something more along the lines of a Scottish Crosby, Stills & Nash. Which is to say they are a band of equals with all three members consistently cranking out song after song of well-written melodic rock that references such icons of the genre as the Byrds, the Beach Boys, Badfinger, and yes Big Star. With 2005's Man-Made can Tortoise be added to that list? Well, sort of. Recorded at Tortoise frontman John McEntire's Soma studio in Chicago with McEntire at the controls and sometimes the keys, Man-Made is both all that one might hope a paring of classicist power pop and avant-garde post-rock could be, and then, depending on which end of the indie rock spectrum you're coming from, perhaps slightly less. Upon hearing that the notoriously homebound boys from Glasgow were going to board a plane to the States, and enter the mad science lab of the man known for odd time signatures and archaic keyboards it raised expectations -- perhaps unfairly -- that the resulting album would be something unexpected and maybe even revolutionary. However, as is the tradition with most power pop craftsmen, the general approach is to aim for the perfect pop song each time out, resulting in albums that are rarely disappointing for fans, but which can rarely claim innovation or edginess. Happily, Man-Made lives up to this tradition and is as good an album as any Teenage Fanclub has made since Grand Prix. That said, given the high expectations of working with a maverick iconoclast like McEntire, even a longtime fan might be somewhat disappointed that the album isn't more than yet another solid Fanclub release. Though McEntire's production is subtle, his unique aesthetics are definitely apparent on Man-Made as odd keyboards and sundry other inevitably electronic apparatuses bubble and bleep just below the surface of fuzzed-out guitars, chugging basslines, and layered vocals. Primarily, the album takes off where the new tracks recorded for the band's stellar 2003 retrospective, Four Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty-Six Seconds: A Short Cut to Teenage Fanclub, left off. To these ends, Love's "Time Stops" and "Fallen Leaves" once again find the sweet-voiced bassist delving into sun-soaked Left Banke meets Moody Blues territory. Similarly, McGinley's "Feel" evinces a hang-loose '70s West Coast vibe that sounds something like Roger McGuinn fronting Hotel California-era Eagles, and if Teenage Fanclub ever had any shoegaze tendencies Blake reveals all with the blissful and Hammond-happy "Slow Fade." While nobody could accuse Teenage Fanclub of taking huge creative risks, more often than not the tracks on Man-Made do resemble something along the lines of '70s soft rock group America backed by Stereolab -- which is a very cool thing.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/07/2005
Label:
Merge Records
UPC:
0036172956227
catalogNumber:
29562
Rank:
47073

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3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a longtime fan, but I have to say I am quite disappointed in this effort from TFC. The album starts off mellow...and pretty much stays that way. Norman Blake's tunes are usually stand-outs for me, but on this one (except the first track "it's all in my mind") he sounds as dull and un-energetic as his band mates. Last album "Howdy" was definitley a "slow burner" -- took a few listens to really open up -- then I loved it! "Man-Made" DOES open up after repeated listens..but still only into "just OK" territory. After I picked up the compilation that was released between Howdy and Man-made...I had high hopes - since the 3 new songs on the compilation were quite good - especially Blake's "Did I say?" - complete with lush strings and that great odd time signature I have come to expect from him since "Start Again" -- but "man made" falls far short from this greatness. Will still see them live if they come to US since they have such a strong catalog of songs. Love the band and their sound, just expected a little more pep and crunch out of this one.