Its good to have them back
Tommy Cockles | Manchester, England | 06/08/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hard to believe its been 5 years since their last foray into music making, but isnt it nice to have them back.
I went to see them on the opening night of their tour in Manchester and at that time hadnt heard any of the new stuff save for Baby Lee (which tho predictable, is pleasant still brings a smile to your face).. I was struck by how good the new stuff sounded, which boded well for the album.
On first listen i thought it was ok, it didnt have the immediacy of Grand Prix or Songs from Northern Britain,However, repeated plays brought out more nuances with the music and in my opinion some of the songs are up there with the best of TFC.
Ive a lot reviews on various sites and it seems to me that Raymond Mcginleys songs seem to attract a lot of criticism but to me they are the best songs on the album....especially The Fall, The Past and the lovely closing song Today Never Ends (which were played at the concert). Its a bit churlish to single out tracks though as all of them have charm and warmth (a rare commodity these days) but other strong tracks are Shock and Awe, Sometimes I dont need anything to believe in, Into the City.....though others not mentioned are all good
The playing and singing is immaculate, with great and subtle use of keyboards,banjo and pedal steel guitar. Listen to it on headphones and it sounds even better
Those expecting another Grand Prix or Bandwagonesque may be disappointed, but please, stick with it, Its not a sin to listen to beautifully crafted songs that don't rock. Everyone should have some Teenage Fanclub in their lives and Shadows is as good as anything theyve done.
Welcome back !!"
Attempting objectivity here...
Reggie Martinez | Fargo, ND United States | 06/15/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As someone who came late to the game on TFC, I can understand some fans' reluctance to immediately embrace Shadows. On first listen, there seems to be very little to distinguish it from a multitude of other 60s-styled pop bands armed with glistening production. There are also those fans who expect to hear the band crank out another Bandwagonesque or Grand Prix, considering it's been five long years since Man-Made was released. Some fan's thoughts when first listening to Shadows: "These songs are weak," "Why are TFC doing lullabies?" or "These tracks just can't compare to the old stuff."
Now that I've had another 10 or 11 listens to this album, each one forcing me to go back and reassess the previous, I can happily report that Shadows is nothing more than yet another excellent, addicting addition to their discography.
Shadows' songs can indeed sound rather pedestrian on first spin, but that is only a result of their subtlety; the guys in TFC were never about wowing you with empty, overly flashy musicianship or songwriting, even when they were young lads on SNL. They had their identity clearly forged from the beginning.
If there is a comparison to make with any past TFC album, it is Howdy! An album clearly indebted to 60s American and British pop, yet staked on the band's own hard-to-define 21st century pop-rock style.
So, songs like Gerard's "Sometimes I Don't Need..." and "Shock and Awe" and Norman's "Baby Lee," "The Back of My Mind," and "Dark Clouds" can seem underwhelming at first. Then, after another play or five, you soon find yourself desperately shuffling through your iPod to find each song to hear that new melody that surprisingly began to entrench itself in your brain.
My one complaint here is a common one with recent TFC records: Raymond. Although he has certainly penned his share of TFC classics (I Don't Know, Tears Are Cool, About You, My Uptight Life, Feel, etc.) any fan of the group has to admit that he just does not have the songwriting chops, nor the voice, of either Norman or Gerard. We all know that the guys truly want to be known as a democracy, and though this may lead to better band chemistry and less of a chance of a bad breakup, this comes at the expense of putting out lesser albums. Raymond contributes two quality songs here (The Fall, Today Never Ends), but even they are weak compared to what Norman and Gerard bring to the table. His songs are too underwritten in comparison, lacking their hooks and style; this problem goes all the way back when the band first started operating in this manner on Grand Prix. His songs I'd more likely expect to hear on The Magic Garden (with all due respect) then on a TFC album.
As for a personal favorite, mine on Shadows is Gerard's "Sweet Days Waiting." It is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful songs the band has every recorded. Bar none. However, there are many tracks here that a fan could just as easily embrace.
Shadows is not a five-star record like Bandwagonesque, Grand Prix, or (arguably) Northern Britain, but it is four-star all the way, and one of the best albums released in the Summer of 2010 in any musical genre. The guys are not in their 20's anymore...they have grown as adults should, and it shows here. If this means more albums such as this one every five years, then let's all hope that the pattern continues for a very long time.
Pretty much what you'd expect from TFC
J. Birtles | Davis,CA. USA | 07/13/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Just to echo what the other reviewers have already stated here.
No surprises on this album - which is too bad!
It's an enjoyable album and pretty much what you'd expect from the boys. But I thought that 'Man- Made' was an excellent effort and therefore hard to beat. But after 5 years...well, I was expecting a little bit more. But if you're a fan, you'll love it.
Looking forward to the US tour later this year."