There were more than a few decent albums released in 1991. Out of Time by REM, Trompe le Monde from the Pixies, Achtung Baby from a re-invented U2 and the behemoth that was Nirvana’s Nevermind all made their first appearance in that year. It was going to take something special for any album to hold their own amongst such strong competition. With the entry in to the fray in November 1991 of Bandwagonesque, Teenage Fanclub more than made their mark.
Every great album has a great opening track, The Concept sets us up perfectly for what is to come. From its opening couplet about a denim clad girl planning to buy some Status Quo records until the end of its fabulous extended guitar coda we are treated to over six minutes of pure power pop bliss. Second track, Satan, is a tease. Eighty two seconds of shambolic guitar thrashing seems to say, this is what we could do, now listen to what we are going to deliver. What follows is track after track of utter aural delight. The combination of great melody, delicious vocals, and snappy lyrics is irresistible. Even twenty five years on it still has the listener smiling frequently. Sometimes it’s knowingly as a familiar emotion is exposed. More often though it’s just a joyous reaction to the sheer audacious dumb fun of it all.
Tracks like ‘What you do to me’ perfectly brings to life the sheer wonder of falling in love. It’s done simply with a great tune, superb vocals and a lyric that barely lasts four lines. On Metal Baby the love-struck singer tells us ‘’I’m not the sort of person she’ll admit she knows, She’s not the sort of person as driven white as snow.’’ In two lines he hasn’t just introduced the characters, he has evoked memories of every high school movie you have ever seen. There is no happy ending for this mismatched pair though as our indie geek hero sees his metal head girl leave town with the band.
There may be some imperfections here. Sidewinder doesn’t quite meet the standards of classic tracks like Alcoholiday but it only serves to highlight just how high the band were setting the bar. It’s certainly not a groundbreaking album. Its influences are all too obvious here with The Beach Boys and The Byrds humming away in the background as Big Star dominates the foreground. However If the major requirement of a great album is to be packed with great songs, Bandwagonesque is up there with the best that a Scottish band has given us. Its reaches its 25th anniversary in November, the perfect excuse to give it another listen. Do it soon, you won’t be disappointed.