Teenage Fanclub Man-Made

When Teenage Fanclub released their retrospective Four Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty-Six Seconds, some feared that it meant the end of what is probably the most consistent band Scotland has ever produced. Fortunately, the band themselves put a stop to that rumour and though it took a couple of years, they’ve just released their seventh album. Man-Made continues on quite nicely from the new songs on the afore-mentioned compilation and finds all three songwriters — Norman Blake, Raymond McGinley and Gerald Love — at the top of their respective games. It also finds them reuniting with original drummer Francis MacDonald and recording in Chicago with their pal John McEntire of Tortoise. This is a strangely-paced record, starting off with its mellowest, less immediate moments before really getting going at its mid-point — but it works. McEntire’s production is remarkably light-handed, yet his presence is a welcome one because it gives Man-Made the focus that Howdy! sorely lacked; he still keeps the rougher edges that have long been polished off since the band’s early days. Man-Made pays homage to the Teenage Fanclub of the past while hinting at what lies ahead — there are some of those precious echoes of Big Star that we all, quite frankly, miss a lot but the band continue to grow 15 years into their career and have just made their best album in some time. If only all bands could mature this beautifully. (Merge)