They say, sometimes, a change is as good as a rest. By the time Teenage Fanclub recorded Man-Made in 2004, they had managed both: four years had passed since their last record, the exemplary Howdy! - and they’d roped in legendary Tortoise producer John McEntire for a sonic shakeup, relocating to Chicago for the sessions. The resulting collection is still recognisably Fanclubesque, but with more than enough interesting twists to reward closer examination. This new vinyl edition of Man-Made, released as part of the band’s ongoing reissue series, alongside 2010’s excellent Shadows – along with Gerard Love’s announcement that he is to step away from the band – provides the perfect opportunity to reflect.

From the beginning, the most striking thing about Man-Made is the noticeable lack of jangle from a band who made it their signature. Opener ‘It’s All In My Mind’ sets the tone – literally – with an unusually hollow-sounding beat, the drums and bass brought to the fore, the vocal harmonies so close as to almost mirror each other. The guitars are back in the mix, barely troubling the treble. Despite the slightly unexpected framework, it’s a song that still seems to be made up almost entirely of choruses - this is a Norman Blake joint, after all.

John McEntire’s distinctive palette is evident elsewhere too – he makes subtle changes that serve to heighten our awareness of these three venerable songwriters’ skills, like a blindfolded taste test. The pulses of keyboard that dance across the verses of ‘Fallen Leaves’; the spiralling, heavily treated guitar line that takes over and then closes out the sublime ‘Flowing’; the brittle, stratified arrangement of ‘Time Stops’, halted sweetly by a gorgeous string interlude.

That’s not to say McEntire’s presence is entirely conspicuous: Man-Made is ultimately a rewarding collaboration because the producer lets the band play to their strengths – which are, of course, considerable. Lyrically, this is a reflective record; the word "autumnal" was practically invented to describe it. ‘Cells’ in particular pulls no punches about the onset of age, with the grim lyric "it’s ever onwards to the grave," only slightly tempered by the raging guitars that burst in halfway through. Yet there is also a cautious optimism that permeates Man-Made. ‘Slow Fade’, contrary to its title, is a sprightly examination of memory which harks back to the brief, witty blasts of the Bandwagonesque era. And ’Flowing’ looks to the future with a crooked smile: "Gone to chase the sun from east to west/ Love’s a wave, I’m riding on the crest," sings Blake, over melancholy strings. We want to believe him; we want the best for these three wise men. Closer ‘Don’t Hide’ seems to wrap up the album’s ideas neatly – a looping bassline, a rueful lyric, a pleasingly crunchy outro. It’s the sound of a band pushing themselves into new territory while staying true to their founding principles, and it’s a delight.

Increasingly you feel that each new Teenage Fanclub album, as their release dates grow further apart, is now an exercise in emotional stock-taking; a chance for each member to scrapbook their life. Man-Made marked the point at which this mature reflection truly began – and it could easily have been a mis-step for the Fannies as they entered their third decade as a band. But their risk-taking is largely justified, and while it doesn’t quite hit the heights of their earlier work (very little does), it is an eminently worthy addition to their sparkling catalogue.