MUSIC REVIEW | Teenage Fanclub – A Catholic Education (1990)

Teenage_Fanclub-A_Catholic_Education-Interior_Frontal

When I was a teenager, Brit rock was all about Oasis and Blur.  Two bands I didn’t just dislike, I out and out hated.  They just seemed too calculated and manufactured to me compared to the Aussie indie crowd that was blowing my mind at the time.  In the years since, I’ve softened on these two bands and I realise I was little harsh.  I’ve also realised that they made me disregard a whole heap of amazing Brit bands who came slightly before them.  Bands like The Stone Roses, Pulp and anyone Madchester related.  And while my recent attempts to remedy my missing of this period have been hit and miss, I had high hopes for Teenage Fanclub and A Catholic Education.


Not completely new to these Scotch rockers, Teenage Fanclub’s Bandwagonesque has been rolling around in my iTunes library for years and never disappoints.  So when their album from just one year earlier opened with the trifecta of Heavy Metal, Everything Flows and Catholic Education, I was immediately put at ease.  It’s a lot of everything I like about Bandwagonesque, just by a band who sounds a year younger, a year less proficient with their instruments and song writing, but with all the promise of the band who would make that awesome follow up 12 months later.

Too Involved and Don’t Need a Drum harness what I’m quickly beginning to believe is the signature Teenage Fanclub sound.  Crunching guitar over a slow but steady beat that always stays lively.  Topped with the kind of vocal delivery that makes you know wherever it takes you is going to be worth the wait.  A Catholic Education seems to be populated with a lot of this confident restraint, and it works every time.

And then that signature sound is broken up, first by Critical Mass, almost pop song like in the way it bounces along.  Then it’s all about dirty, sludgy blues in Heavy Metal II.  Critical Mass still retains plenty of Teenage Fanclubness through the vocals, but the instrumental nature of Heavy Metal II makes it like nothing else at all on the record.

From the almost punk rock of Catholic Education, to the shoegazing lethargy of Eternal Light, this is an album that returns to two or three key sounds, but never comes to close to repetitiveness.  I might feel like I made a small mistake by dismissing the Brit rock of the mid 90s without hearing much, but Teenage Fanclub and A Catholic Education make me know I made a monumental cock up by ignoring Brit rock of the late 80s and early 90s without ever hearing a note.

Teenage Fanclub

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