Rambling Impressions on Here

Rambling Impressions on Here

Postby Georgia on Fri Sep 09, 2016 8:02 pm

Some smart aleck on the Facebook group said he was waiting for my thoughts on Here, so here they are. I hope they meet my usual standards of embarrassing fanboy/girl nerdiness and gushing praise. Do I like this album? Yes, indeed! Please don't judge me too harshly. I can't help myself. :oops:

I'm in Love -
A deceptively simple, driving, straight-ahead tune that is classic Norman going all the way back to WYDTM. It's either all verse or all chorus, I can't decide. Simple is not to say its arrangement is barren and without nuance. The major 2nd in the harmony at the peak of the chorus/verse conflation is this one's special touch that says we're in for a treat. The best choice for the album's salutation.

Thin Air -
I'm caught slightly off guard. Is it wrong to be reminded of Thin Lizzy here? I like the way the chorus floats and the vocal transitions to quarter note triplets in the last two bars. We have heard this rhythm somewhere before. It is a descendant of Empty Space. Is it a coincidence that empty space and thin air are not divergent concepts? We know we are listening to Teenage Fanclub now. I take note of those ah-ahs at the end. Yes, they’re good, aren’t they?

Hold On -
Lyrics are usually center-stage in Raymond's creations for me and this is no different. It's an elaboration on a philosophy he's spoken before, asking us to hold up the mirror that looks both ways. There is continuity with The Past (modern life destroys us all). Don't get lost in the banality, the pettiness, the nonsense that might consume our lives. Look. Remember who you are. The guitar textures hint at what's to come later, notably in Steady State.

The Darkest Part of the Night -
Another of Norman's songs that is so perfect, natural and organic that it's hard to believe one of the Pop/Rock Greats of yore didn't pluck it out of the air and record it decades ago. Baby Lee was that song on Shadows. The arrangement is perfect, the vocal is perfect, the lyrics are perfect. Many artists could interpret this in a number of genres or ways. It passes the test of what a truly great song is.

I Have Nothing More to Say -
The disembodied vocal seems at first to come from outer space, beaming back a universal human feeling that life can be overwhelming, sometimes we need to disengage, and we are lucky if we have a special person in our lives who understands us. I can relate to these sentiments and they're beautifully expressed here.

I Was Beautiful When I Was Alive -
Raymond slows it way down with ruminations on what-if. We are daydreaming with him, reflecting on the past. Or are we trying to escape it? Are we no longer alive in the present? I'm not sure. This song can have multiple meanings depending on the listener's context and I like that open-endedness. Interesting synth lines substitute for what we would expect to be guitars. Some of the guitars that are there call to my mind Archer Prewitt's playing, which is perhaps reinforced by the steady drum beat that picks up the outro, to my ears hinting at The Sea and Cake, those wonderful interpreters of motorik among other things. They are a small obsession of mine. But I digress.

The First Sight -
There is the mildest Brazilian/Latin flavor to this, isn't there? The verse has a cousin in Stretching Out, my favorite on the Lightships album. You are lulled then launched into the trumpet-filled chorus that builds brilliantly into the first guitar solo. Back to the quiet verse, I'm on edge waiting for that chorus to come around again. The second time is even sweeter with the guitar break after the ah's culminating in the bittersweet but joyous highlight, the emotional peak, the straight-to-the-heart shot of the whole album that shouts We Are Teenage Fanclub and This is Why You Love Us. The icing on the cake are those guitar squalls sailing over the outro, those two notes played and repeated only the way Raymond could. I hear echoes of Everything Flows. It’s all here. Teenage Fanclub is to me, above all, a feeling, and this is the feeling. I press repeat.

Live in the Moment -
Many moons ago, someone remarked that Did I Say sounded like The Moody Blues. Really, I though? I am now convinced that there is a Moody sub consciousness that lurks and occasionally surfaces, along with perhaps America. It's a good thing. The driving beat and syncopated melody are irresistible and then poof, it's gone, scarcely giving us the chance to dig into it. Even though my ears have come to anticipate such power with economy (think of Slow Fade and its hit-and-run strategy) I'm surprised, stunned. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Steady State -
We are dreaming again with Raymond, floating atop and among the soft currents of guitars, like waves washing onto a shore. I want to stay here for hours. As it begins to recede and I come to my senses, I imagine I hear "erase what I've become" turning into "I light a fire underneath what I was" from The Fall. I love this continuity; whether it's conscious, I don't know. They are not repeating themselves, but building a continuum. This is my favorite of his on this record.

It's a Sign -
A little more dappled sunlight from Gerry, necessary to keep my ears from crashing after the sweet rush of The First Sight, still ringing in my head. He sets us down gently with sweet verses that give way to those overlapping background vocal lines that take me all the way back to Discolite or Take the Long Way Round. Another tiny reminder of who they were and how it relates to their more understated moments of exuberance today.

With You -
The tone is somber, but the message is warm. Companionship through life's ups and downs and an unknown future, a changing world we're stepping into, aging into. The cymbal swells are this one's special touch along with the brief organ interlude. I love that.

Connected to Life -
One more folk-influenced gem from Norman, the 6/8 time connecting us to an older tradition that he seems more in touch with on each new album. More wonderful atmospherics in the controlled guitars, compressed and feeding back in that quiet way; the fading echo on the snare near the end. They contribute to a sense of unease I don't often associate with their records. It's a beautiful song, but I want to shake the feeling it gives me. I want to be connected to life, to say hey world, I'm still here, don't leave me behind. What to do? Press Repeat of course (Start Again).
Ain't lost yet, so I gotta be a winner
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Re: Rambling Impressions on Here

Postby Devotchik on Fri Sep 09, 2016 8:34 pm

Got the email yesterday saying my signed copy of the cd has been despatched so still awaiting it! Hope it arrives soon.. can't wait to hear it!
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Re: Rambling Impressions on Here

Postby WarmJets on Fri Sep 09, 2016 10:31 pm

Georgia,

I LOVE this. Thanks for sharing. You're tempting me to post mine (which is far more embarrassing). Well done and passionate.

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Re: Rambling Impressions on Here

Postby terjely on Sat Sep 10, 2016 12:06 am

Thanks for posting, Georgia. I loved reading that. I'm unable to express (in english) what I feel about the album/songs the way you do. Thanks again!
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Re: Rambling Impressions on Here

Postby JWhipp on Sat Sep 10, 2016 3:25 am

Love the post. Love the album. One spin in the car and another (headphones) walking on the beach. One of my favorite first (and second) spins of one of theirs I've ever had.
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Re: Rambling Impressions on Here

Postby JOHN S on Sat Sep 10, 2016 11:52 am

thanks Georgia, it's always great to read your thoughts on all matters tfc... :D
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Re: Rambling Impressions on Here

Postby Georgia on Sat Sep 10, 2016 3:55 pm

:oops: Aw shucks. I look forward to reading everyone's ruminations on the subject. Please share. It's always interesting to read all the varying reactions and what small things strike other people.

terjely wrote:Thanks for posting, Georgia. I loved reading that. I'm unable to express (in english) what I feel about the album/songs the way you do. Thanks again!


You do quite well and I can't speak a word of Norwegian! We all feel you love of everything Fanclub. :D
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Re: Rambling Impressions on Here

Postby valtteri3 on Sat Sep 10, 2016 5:06 pm

are the two last songs - "with you" and "connected to life" - the darkest songs fanclub have released?
it's quite an ending to the album, a mysteriously unsettling and shadowy coda.
i can't name the emotion presented in "with you", it's kind of fateful, yet hopeful. somehow it reminds me of "everybody's been burned" by the byrds. "connected to life" has a weary, worried tone to it, and the way it ends kind of leaves the story open.
both songs are absolutely beautiful, like i wrote in another thread they are kind of things you just have to stop and listen to.
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Re: Rambling Impressions on Here

Postby terjely on Sat Sep 10, 2016 8:45 pm

valtteri3 wrote:are the two last songs - "with you" and "connected to life" - the darkest songs fanclub have released?

I'm not sure what to make of it. Connected To Life has a very sad feel to it, but it could just be because it's so slow and not that it's meant to be the darkest song ever. If it had been faster and in a lighter tone, it wouldn't have been far from f.ex The Darkest Part of the Night (or Dark and Lonely from 2010). Until further notice I prefet to think it's just that they have explored new musical landscapes and not that they are at their darkest in life :?
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Re: Rambling Impressions on Here

Postby Devotchik on Sun Sep 11, 2016 1:24 am

Got back in from dads tonight and it was waiting on the doormat!

First thoughts.

Album title: Here. Sounds grounded in the now, not naively looking to the future and not wistfully looking back. Reviews I've read have mentioned something about the songs perhaps having a darker than usual tone to them. I just think they sound like they're from songwriters who have experienced something of life. These guys have come a long way. No longer are they pessimistic, naive, or longing; they are mature and reflective songs. The realism is still there but it's the other two songwriters who seem to have picked that up on this one. I guess because I believe our experiences shape how we interpret things I'm hesistant to go in to more detail for fear of reading my own meanings in to their songs. However I would like to say in the past I felt Raymond was very much the pessimistic realist in the band, on this album he sounds more like the hopeful reassuring presence but without losing that link to reality he seemed to have. Norman's songs have a supportive and observing quality to them and Gerry's sound like they've been written by someone taking stock of experiences and being reflective. I get a feeling from having read the lyric booklet before listening to the music that it needs the music because it lifts the lyrics up and cushions them. Don't get me wrong, it's not a downcast or negative collection of songs, just feels like it has come from a real and authentic place. Touching.
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Re: Rambling Impressions on Here

Postby Gene_Clark on Mon Sep 12, 2016 10:11 am

Finishing work on Friday, I cycled home and tore open the cardboard package from Monorail Records that contained Here. Having already heard the opening two songs I’m in Love and Thin Air, there was already an element of comforting familiarity about the autographed, clear vinyl album I held in my hands. Reassuringly, the album was rigorously democratically assembled; Gerry, Norman and Raymond with 4 songs each. This is one of the facets of Teenage Fanclub I love the most; what band other than the Fannies, and I include The Beatles in this, can boast 3 distinctive songwriters whose work is all of comparable qualities. Norman with the positive, upbeat, rockier numbers, Gerry with the glorious shimmering, gentle pop sensibility and Raymond with the more intellectual, quirkier, road less travelled songs that reward the careful listener, in contrast to the effervescent immediacy of the other two’s work. It is no surprise that the band sought to make public a Norman and then a Gerry song; more than anything else it reassures and pacifies an anxious Fanclub fanbase. As the late John Peel said of The Fall (when they were good), this is a band who are “always different; always the same.”

However, and this is where things really do take an unexpected gear shift, the 4 Raymond numbers are the songs that are the most impressive after the first few listens; I Was Beautiful When I Was Alive is an awesome contemplation on the impermanence of existence and probably the finest thing he has ever written. I need to listen again, tonight, to firm up my thoughts. Suffice to say, it's a corker.
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Re: Rambling Impressions on Here

Postby mainguy on Tue Sep 13, 2016 7:01 pm

Georgia wrote:The Darkest Part of the Night -
Another of Norman's songs that is so perfect, natural and organic that it's hard to believe one of the Pop/Rock Greats of yore didn't pluck it out of the air and record it decades ago. Baby Lee was that song on Shadows. The arrangement is perfect, the vocal is perfect, the lyrics are perfect. Many artists could interpret this in a number of genres or ways. It passes the test of what a truly great song is.


I'm working on a theory that the reason that "The Darkest Part of the Night" sounds so familiar is that its a perfect mashup of all of Norman's Songs from Northern Britain.

Not that there's anything wrong with that!
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Re: Rambling Impressions on Here

Postby valtteri3 on Tue Sep 13, 2016 8:23 pm

oh boy! this album is like the horn of plenty! it keeps giving.
i really love it. makes me really happy to listen to it. such a wide spectrum of songs and sounds.
i mean, take the first three songs from the b-side. what a trio! and it goes on like that.
even though i must've been through it tens of times, i still get surprised and find new textures on the album.
the structure of the album is real good, it flows and is more diverse than many records.
well done! i must admit, it's even better than i expected it to be, and my expectations were pretty, pretty high.

ps. "steady state"... amazing song!
and what about those playful vocal arrangements at the end of "it's a sign".
"it's a sure...sign. sure sign. it's a sign, it's a sign". love em!
Last edited by valtteri3 on Tue Sep 13, 2016 9:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rambling Impressions on Here

Postby pinball on Tue Sep 13, 2016 9:15 pm

I've started a review but it reads like six form bollocks. Might try again later.
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Re: Rambling Impressions on Here

Postby Devotchik on Tue Sep 13, 2016 10:24 pm

pinball wrote:I've started a review but it reads like six form bollocks. Might try again later.



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