Sound: Over their 20 years together, the Fannies have remained admirably consistent. While fellow veterans R.E.M. (ventured down an avenue of drum machines and Q-Tip) and U2 (hard krautrock and devil horns) have changed tack with mixed results, TFC have stuck to their sunny, harmony-laden power pop, and 'Shadows', rightly or wrongly, is the album fans expect the band to make as they ease into middle-age. It's testament, though, that the there is no slack here and after repeated listens 'Shadows' reveals itself to be one of their strongest LPs, if a little mid-paced. // 7
Lyrics: Ever since 'Bandwagonesque', the Scottish quartet have always been in a league of their own lyrically, and here, surprisingly, it's bassist Gerard Love who composes the finest outings, just beating the usual torch-bearer Norman Blake. Love's ability to find regret in even the sunniest of tunes is evident in the fine opener 'Sometimes I Don't Need To Believe In Anything', and the album's strongest moment, 'Shock & Awe', whether Love protests 'wake me up / when the fury is over' in his delicate, sweetly aching voice. Blake does still have the midas touch, though, particularly in the tender 'Dark Clouds' and the sad but poppy 'Baby Lee'. // 9
Overall Impression: 'Shadows' is bursting with delicious harmonies Brysdian pop, but there are small faults that niggle away, particularly the fact the acoustic guitar and organ rule rather than accompany, and distorted rock outs are few and far between, which is what made 'Man-Made' such a surprising pleasure.
But 'Shock& Awe' is a stonking piece of epic rock that wouldn't have sounded amiss on the band's finest album, 'Grand Prix', while the three-part harmonies of 'Into the City' and Love's 'When I Still Have Thee' is a swooning piece of lovelorn pop. 'Shadows' may offend in its inoffensiveness, but after repeated listens there's no other band who create such joyous, bittersweet pop. Long may they continue. // 7