Before there was Belle and Sebastian and Camera Obscura, there was but one choice for you if you were Scottish and a romantic fool, and that was Teenage Fanclub, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s all because of “Mellow Doubt,” their sappy-as-all-hell-but-I-have-felt-at-one-point-it-was-exactly-how-I-was-feeling-and-I-doubt-I’m-alone first single from their magnum opus, Grand Prix. In the middle of Britpop, all sneers and self-consciousness and style and bravado, this song came out and was as much the opposite of The Scene as it was part of it. There’s little attempt to hide behind Colin Zeals or soon-she-iiiiiiiiines or whatever here, and even if the title is a pun (“Mellow Doubt” = “Mellowed Out,” in case you hadn’t said it out loud and realized for yourself yet), it’s also a promise that the song lives up to not only in its arrangement, but its lyrics: “I’m in trouble, and I know it,” Norman Blake sings, but he sounds…well, at peace with it, in some way, or at least realizing that this is just the way things are going to be; it’s a very passive song, even before you get to “There is no choice/in what I must do” towards the end.
But it’s a beautiful little song, heartfelt and honest, and that’s why it works. I wasn’t joking when I said above that I’ve thought this was an exact description of how I’ve felt at times, and that’s what makes it so wonderful, in its way. Everyone knows what this feels like, and everyone wants this feeling to go away for whoever’s feeling it.
Weird but true: When this was released as a single, there were two different versions, the album version (as above), and this “alternative version” (so below), which was in a different key. Why? Just because, really. It was the ’90s.