Thirteen years on, Grand Prix still sounds as fresh as it did on first listen.
Rowan Collinson 2008-02-01
Teenage Fanclub remain Britain’s foremost underachievers. Critically feted for 1991’s Bandwagonesque LP (famously chosen as Spin Magazine’s album of the year, beating Nirvana’s Nevermind), they’ve since steadfastly failed to break through into the mainstream.
1995’s Grand Prix remains their high watermark. Released at the height of Britpop, it was criminally overlooked for the likes of Echobelly and, lest we forget, Menswear. Yet you’d struggle to find a more perfect pop album than this. For 42 breathless minutes, it condenses the best bits of the Byrds, Big Star and early Beach Boys into thirteen, sun drenched tracks.
From the opening rush of About You and Sparky’s Dream through to the slower, reflective Verisimilitude and Going Places, Grand Prix is an album about being hopelessly, head-over-heels in love. Musically the template is familiar, but lyrically it’s their most mature work to date with Gerard Love’s line in Don’t Look Back (“I’d steal a car/to drive you home”) remaining one of their best. The word play in Verisimilitude is another reminder that the Fannies were maybe too smart for the mainstream.
There are those who say that Teenage Fanclub’s main weakness is that they only have one song… and it sounds like The Byds. Yet 13 years on, Grand Prix still sounds as fresh as it did on first listen; perhaps even better. If they do only have one song, then long may it continue to play.