Maybe the best thing to say about the new Teenage Fanclub album is that it sounds just like a Teenage Fanclub album. There are no added bells and whistles on Nothing Lasts Forever. No strange excursions into new genres.  Just five men making the kind of music the band have always made – happy-sad guitar-led melodies that sound fresh and new and yet achingly familiar at the same time. 

“I think we like to make music that sounds like ourselves,” Raymond McGinley, founding member of the band, guitarist, songwriter and one of the group’s singers, agrees as he sits in his home in Pollokshields, surrounded by speakers and recording gear on a Friday morning in early September. 

“It sounds a daft thing to say, but sometimes people will ask you, ‘What sound did you have in mind when you wanted to start making this album?’ 

“And we don’t do that. We just go in and do what we feel like doing. It’s not an abstract exercise. It’s not like doing an exam. 

“This is us living our lives. It is not something outside of us. This is part of us and what we do. This is our identity.

“We sound like us now. And us now are slightly different people than us as we were 30 years ago.”

In other words, Nothing Lasts Forever is a middle-aged album in the best way.  The sound of a band that is engaged with the world as it is today and yet comfortable with the means of expression it has developed and cultivated in the decades since their first album A Catholic Education was released back in (is it really that long ago?) 1990.

“You should be comfortable with who you are now,” McGinley, himself now heading towards his seventh decade on the planet, suggests.  “I think you need to keep pushing forward against other people’s expectations of who you are and just put yourself out there as who you are now.”

Which maybe raises the question: who are Teenage Fanclub now? Well, they are a quintet of musicians in their middle years and climbing, who, despite the changing mores of pop music and the odd change in line-up (founder member Gerard Love left in 2018), remain one of the most reliable pleasures in Scottish pop.

They are also a band with a storied history, emerging from the Bellshill scene to sign to Creation and if not quite conquer the world at least make a dent in it.  They toured with Nirvana and Kurt Cobain called them the best band in the world (Liam Gallagher said they were the second-best. You can probably guess who came first in Gallagher’s estimation).  It’s the Fannies (as the music press used to call them) who can be heard singing over the title sequence of Charlize Theron’s fine comedy drama Young Adult, and who once collaborated with De La Soul.

That was then, of course. Are the pleasures of being in a band in your 50s the same as they are when you’re in your 20s, I wonder?

“It’s much the same to be honest. It’s easy in a way and it’s not easy in other ways. We do this thing that just floats out into the air and it’s intangible and kind of abstract in that sense and we’ve been lucky enough to make a living out of that.

“We like going into the studio and making new records and the feeling going into the studio making this record was not dissimilar to the feeling going into the studio and making our Catholic Education album. The feeling is the same.  “The feeling of going out on tour and playing in front of audiences is great. I like travel. I like the minutiae. I like getting in the van and driving off.”

You never get bored of that?  “There are only so many times you want to drive up and down the M6. But I think it’s like being a dentist. I’ve said this before. Or somebody else said this. Don’t be a dentist if you don’t like looking in people’s mouths. Because that’s what it is. And if you don’t like that you should give up.

“We don’t like musicians who are whingers. ‘Oh, I hate this.’ Shut the f*** up and go and do something else.”

What I want to ask about is the band’s consistency. The way TFC always sound like TFC. Has no-one ever walked into the studio and said, “Let’s go drum ’n’ bass”?

“That would presume that we’ve ever been conceptual or we’ve ever spoken about what we do before we do it, which we haven’t,” McGinley points out.  “We don’t have the ‘what are we going to do now?’ preamble conversations. We just go in and do it, we never talk about it.

“The way we do it just feels natural to us. For a couple of days we made a record with De La Soul in 1993 or whenever it was. It was interesting seeing the way those guys worked with what they had and the way they built things up. It was natural to them.  They worked with their form of expression in the same way we might pull out a guitar and play something. It wasn’t an affectation. It wasn’t a concept. It was just how they were.  “We have a way of doing things, but we don’t have any conceptualisation. We just do it.”

Ah yes, but what you are describing does sound very Scottish in a way, Raymond. Conversation kept to a minimum.

“Well, we are hopefully enlightened, intelligent, sensitive people. But we are also west of Scotland men. But there’s good and bad in that as well. Communication happens between people that doesn’t need language. That doesn’t need people to say anything. You work more easily with people when you don’t always feel the need to talk. You feel comfortable in each other’s presence and you can just exist together and do things and play things without needing a chat to say what are we doing here.”

Nothing Lasts Forever is an album title that is a nod to the fact that life moves dumbly on. That all of us are getting older.   “What we never want to become is a pastiche of who we were,” McGinley says. “Some bands of our vintage don’t do any new press photos any more. They just use ones from the early 1990s. We like to present ourselves honestly. We think we look OK, but we just want to reflect who we are now. We’re still the same people, but we have changed.”

The new album is also well aware of the world it emerges into, of the turbulence of the last few years. McGinley has written the final song on the album, I Will Love You.  Seven minutes of ringing guitar lines and heartfelt lyrics: “I will love you until the bigots are gone/After they apologise for all the harm that they’ve done.”

It’s a declaration of love, obviously, in the face of the ongoing political reality of the world. “I would say as a band we are optimistic people,” McGinley proposes.  “Obviously, the premise of the song is that this stuff will always be here. That’s just part of life. But there’s no reason not to navigate your life positively through that. If you spend every waking hour raging at what is happening in the world …”

Raymond McGinley does have a life outside TFC, by the way.  “I’m slowly doing up this house in Pollokshields. I’m doing a lot of renovation work. I’ve got my working clothes on and I’m up in the loft checking where pipes go. That’s a lot of what I do.”

But he’s not one of life’s hobbyists. “The guys in the band, our hobbies are music, you know? We don’t really need a hobby because this is what we do. We like the stuff around it as well.”

Still, he knows how to sort a blocked pipe.

“I’m pretty handy. If you need anything  fixed …”

Nothing Lasts Forever is out now. Teenage Fanclub play Tramway, Glasgow, November 5; the Tivoli Theatre, Aberdeen, November 6 and Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, November 7