Music, like certain aromas, can immediately take you back to a time in your life as if it were not just yesterday, but today. Visions come floating back into your head, some significant and some completely random, some joyous and others heartbreaking. And if the music itself is from a band that you know you’ll still be listening to while you’re cutting coupons for Depends, then those travels back in time are all good ones.
Man-Made from Teenage Fanclub quickly took my hand and pulled me down memory lane, not because the first track “It’s All In My Mind” sounds exactly like the other beauties from their past, but because the band has once again proven that they can still glisten and shine as brightly as they did on A Catholic Education from 1990.
I can say that the red sports car has been traded in for a more subdued, comfortable ride on the beginning of the trek until “Slow Fade” kicks into fifth gear and RPMs start to rise, complete with a very Brit-popish keyboard and wa-wah guitar interlude. “Born Under a Good Sign” is so paisley it hurts, but in a good way as lead singer Norman Blake makes us swoon to the moon. I swear that guy could be singing about how he’s killed 100 people and is eating Judy for dinner with a nice Chianti and I’d still be grinning like a goof.
Lighting the sparkler with granules of solo piano, “Only With You” continues the hypnotic trance, and then their tinge of country-ish reputation comes about on “Cells” as their story unfolds, “I have no fear but I’m not brave / Break cells, breaking down” then trails off into a pool of soft, acoustic strums.
Teenage Fanclub is definitely a brightly colored feather in Scotland’s musical cap, along with other lovelies like Trashcan Sinatras and Dogs Die in Hot Cars. After nine records, four record labels, worldwide tours and repetitive stints with Chicago producer John McEntire, Man-Made resonates a new definition for the term, when human intervention can actually enrich our lives instead of stripping it away.