Ben Sisario wrote,
Half an hour into Teenage Fanclub’s set at the Bowery Ballroom on Monday night, Norman Blake, the chattiest of the Scottish band’s three songwriters, paused to hold five fingers out to a crowd that had been singing along to every word.
“Five years since we played here,” Mr. Blake said. “I recognize the faces.” Then, as apology, explanation or just his usual self-deprecation, he added, “We’ve been working on the Scottish calendar: 384 days in a year, 26 1/2 hours in a day.”
The career arc for many of their peers has included a spiteful breakup and a lucrative reunion. Teenage Fanclub, founded in Glasgow in 1989, has avoided both. But even as its audience has narrowed, the band has retained a rare prestige among critics and other musicians.
In person the three men are gregarious and lighthearted, talking about the “normal life” that their latter-day schedule affords them — it seems to involve a lot of soccer — and poking fun at their history of near-misses with fame. They were too pop to really fit in the grunge world and too Scots for the London-centric Brit-pop scene, they said, but life on the fringes ultimately spared them the paparazzi and hype that destroy more fashionable bands.
“We didn’t go down with the Brit-pop Titanic,” Mr. Blake said, to chuckles from his band mates.
“To me they are the perennial benchmark of quality songwriting,” said Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie. “Great pop music should sound like the easiest thing in the world to write, but once you try to accomplish it yourself, it just becomes impossible. And it’s only in that moment of trying to recreate the magic that you realize how brilliant it really is.”
Let me wrap up my bit of blathering fandom by saying that calling Norman “chattiest”, while techinically accurate, is true only when amidst his bandmates, or monks, dead ones.
And speaking of singing along to every word, here is “Radio” from the other night.
“But now you lighten up my day with your views
Just out of school and you’re "that’s so cool”
Baby, justify the reason behind your style
Find a craze that fits and stay there for awhile”