We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
The title of Teenage Fanclub’s fourth album apparently refers to the speed with which the disc was recorded—five weeks, mostly live in the studio, with David Bianco (the Pixies) producing. The result, far from seeming rushed or unfinished, is the Glasgow quartet’s most focused and confident effort to date. Forgoing the luxury of working on their material in the studio appears to have forced songwriters Norman Blake and Gerry Love to write songs that don’t require sonic gimmicks. Where previous albums buried catchy songs in mixes designed to obscure the tunes’ triviality, the 13 songs on Grand Prix are presented without hedging. The band that once passed off a song consisting of little more than the line “What you do to me” repeated ad nauseam delivers these explicit, expressive tunes with disarming directness. These are still Teenage Fanclub songs, however: midtempo Big Star-style homages to love, with titles that only occasionally refer to the lyrical subject (“Neil Jung” has nothing to do with the guitarist or the psychoanalyst). Nonetheless, the unprecedented connection that Blake and Love make with the listener more than compensates for the band’s limited range.