In the early '90s, Teenage Fanclub countered the nihilism of the grunge generation with a sludgy but sunny sound that channeled the power pop glory of Big Star and Badfinger. The Scottish band has soldiered on since their brief commercial breakthrough, issuing a half dozen albums filled with songs built on that same power pop foundation, with some explorations into vintage country-rock and hushed pop acousticism.
Teenage Fanclub is one of the most melodic and charming rock groups to flower from the fertile soil of the early '90s rock scene. But unlike so many bands of that era, Teenage Fanclub has continued to produce swirly fuzzed-out pop for over a dozen years since. The Scottish group hit commercial radio, TV, and magazines with the same acclaim and excitement as My Bloody Valentine, Soundgarden, Dinosaur Jr., and Nirvana. The band landed on MTV with their toothy, tuneful second album Bandwagonesque, gaining notice with an enticing sonic wash that mixed Big Star-inspired guitar blues with the bended notes of My Bloody Valentine. Like so many of the above-mentioned bands, Teenage Fanclub lacked commercial staying power but became legends to college kids with guitars and access to 120 Minutes. Indie rock wouldn't be the same without all of these bands inspiring each other, as evidenced by the late '90s indie pop generation of Sebadoh, Superdrag, and Versus.
Teenage Fanclub's debut, A Catholic Education (originally released in 1990 on Creation in the U.K. and a fledgling Matador in the U.S., and since reissued by London's Fire Records) is a classic scruffy pop gem that blazed trails for a new generation of indie rock power popsters with with jangly guitars, pop melodies, and simple, sunny production. It represents the first fruit of a band started in 1989 as a loving homage to the melodies and styles of pop bands like The Yardbirds, Big Star, Badfinger, and The Beatles. Founding guitarists and singers Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley offered songswriting and chord progressions here that transcended the album's release date. The same can be said of Teenage Fanclub's half-dozen albums since, making them one of the most endearing and classic bands of the last decade.