There are plenty of great power pop bands, both of yesteryear and today, but none of them can match Teenage Fanclub for purity. Many bands skirt the edges of power pop, but Teenage Fanclub are 100% pure, uncut power pop. Seriously, if you’ve never listened to power pop you’d be wise to start by listening to half a Teenage Fanclub song…or cut it with baby formula. At the risk of sending potential power poppers into overdoses, I’d recommend you start with “What You Do To Me.” The world is full of pop songs, but “What You Do To Me” is in a class all by itself.
The song dwells innocently enough on the band’s third album, BANDWAGONESQUE, which was released in 1991. A bare bones, almost ludicrously simple love song, “What You Do To Me” is two minutes and one second of bliss. The song has a great, crunchy guitar riff and a lyrically hook that comprises 98% of the song. It’s the kind of song you listen to and say “I could write this stuff!” because Teenage Fanclub makes it look that easy. But it’s not that easy, or everyone would be doing it, right? I think that effortlessness is what separates the great from truly amazing. And Teenage Fanclub are truly amazing.
The song is basic its brevity manages to keeps it from being overly repetitive, achieving a miraculously high level of infectiousness while managing to avoid being tiresome. With “What You Do To Me,” Teenage Fanclub captures the soaring wonder of love with none icky, complicated stuff like heartbreak. Even though it’s from 1991, the song sounds like it could have been recorded yesterday. And yet, I don’t think it would sound out of place on The Beatles first album, MEET THE BEATLES.
All of BANDWAGONESQUE is amazing, potent power pop, but the album’s crowning glory is “What You Do To Me.” One listen, and you’ll have it in your head all day.