Songwriting duties are shared between the three permanent members of the band: Norman Blake, Raymond McGinley, and Gerard Love. 'A Catholic Education' was their debut album, released in 1990. The album received positive reviews from English music journalists and critics. In contrast to the group's later work, the album has a very dark, abrasive, and cynical tone and incorporated a grunge and heavy metal influenced sound. As well, the album's two title tracks are direct attacks on the Catholic Church, which are unique for an otherwise apolitical band.
The opening track, "Everything Flows", is a mellow powerpop-influenced song (unlike the rest of the album) that provides a sort of blueprint for their later work. "Everything Flows" was later included in the compilation albums 'Deep Fried Fanclub' and 'Four Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty-Six Seconds – A Short Cut to Teenage Fanclub'. Those were released in 1995 and 2003, respectively. Teenage Fanclub's second album, 1991's 'The King', went for a shambolic, alternative rock edge that left many fans and critics cold, though the release also had strong defenders. It took their third album to kick things into high gear. 'Bandwagonesque', released in November 1991 on Creation Records, became famous by beating Nirvana's landmark album 'Nevermind' to be voted "album of the year" by popular American music magazine Spin.
It also gave the band substantial U.S. success when the single "Star Sign" reached #4 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart, becoming their biggest hit in that country. "What You Do to Me" and "The Concept" were also Top 20 hits on that chart. Fans greatly enjoyed the melodic yet melancholy feel of the album. Although later works have led the group through various highs and lows throughout the 90s and 00s, they're still going strong as of 2014.
Tours have been widely successful. Their latest album, 'Shadows', was their ninth studio release. They made it available on 31 May 2010 on the band's own PeMa label in Europe and on Merge Records in North America, the group promoting the single "Baby Lee". Said track shows the band still in touch with the chiming, emotional sounds of their 90s heyday. There have been a succession of drummers, including: - Francis MacDonald (a prime-mover in the C86 scene, later of the BMX Bandits), the drummer in the original lineup, and in a later period - Brendan O’Hare (later of Telstar Ponies, Thrapple , Mogwai and Macrocosmica) and - Paul Quinn (later of The Primary 5), who was later replaced by the returning Francis MacDonald. Keyboardist Finlay MacDonald (no relation to Francis MacDonald) has also been a member.
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