Picks and Pans Review: Bandwagonesque

updated 03/02/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/02/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

Teenage Fanclub

The Fanclub's ironic title mocks the herd mentality of zombified guitar bands lock-stepping out of Britain to a 4/4 beat. This rock quartet from Glasgow is certainly far from that maddening crowd. But is that enough?

The band gives you Norman Blake's languid, post-shock voice accompanied by the sloppy rhythm of bass player Gerard Love and drummer Brendan O'Hare, who sound like they would rather be off in a pub somewhere. Cutting through that malaise are the guitars of Blake and Raymond McGinley, who ape Neil Young with bristling chords, growling feedback and saw-toothed solos. On the other side of the ledger are the band's surprisingly viable pop melodies and fetching harmonies. Those civilized tendencies are most evident on the catchier songs like "Star Sign" and "Alcoholiday." Throughout, the band's influences seem more American (R.E.M., Alex Chilton) than British.

Teenage Fanclub is most interesting when they are at their most perplexing, forging an uneasy truce between the band's warring attributes on songs like "What You Do to Me." Their music is too bruised and lurching to be accounted pop, but too formal and pretty to be punk. The group is like some rough beast with one foot up the evolutionary ladder and unsure whether to keep climbing or jump off. One thing is certain: They don't want to dance. (DGC)

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