Graham Reid | | 1 min read
The Fannies journey was always one worth following once they established themselves at the midpoint of classic British pop and American power-pop (Big Star and the early Byrds key references) with their Bandwagonesque album in '91.
They grew and developed in interesting (if not always successful) directions but in advance of their Powerstation show in Auckland in 2019 we were pleased to essay their albums to that point.
However shortly before that tour one of their mainspring songwriters Gerry Love quit . . . and maybe that has fed into the melancholy mood of this, their 11thstudio album.
That and perhaps another of their key writer/singers Norman Blake coming home to Scotland after a decade in Canada and facing old memories and the strange days of the present when in his mid Fifties.
Among his songs here are the yearning Home (“all this time I've been holding onto a memory . . . I just don't know when I'll open that door again”), The Sun Won't Shine On Me and the autumnal McCartney/McGuinn Back in the Day (“with each new passing day . . . I just can't seem to find that peace of mind I knew back in the day”).
Their third Fannies mainstay is singer/guitarist Raymond McGinley and he too – on the evidence of the Bats-like folk-to-pop rock of Everything is Falling Apart with “have fun 'cause everything is going to end” – is feeling out of sorts too. On the melancholy The Future he sings “it's hard to walk into the future when your shoes are made of lead”.
What elevates this however is their assured musicianship which lets them find their feet in their interlocking guitar soloing on the seven-minute Home which opens the album.
That, and the sunshine-kissed harmonies and strong melodies (McGinley's title track, Blake's Byrdsian love song I'm More Inclined, the standout Living With You near the end), their power-pop sensibilities (Warm Embrace which recalls the re-formed Searchers in the Eighties) and the thoughtful songs like Blake's Come With Me which is more Laurel Canyon than Scotland.
This a fine album with the caveat that it befits a band which now might be better called Middle-Age Fanclub and is reflecting more on the past and present, home and contentment than that future which is hard to walk into, let alone envision.
You can hear this album on Spotify here