Picks and Pans Review: Babylon and on

updated 11/02/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/02/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST


Reviewers are forever urging bands to "stretch" and "grow" and musically shed their skins, like molting snakes. All very worthy, if torturous, advice, but utterly beside the point in the case of Squeeze. Squeeze, it is a big thrill to report, is still inimitably, immutably, incorrigibly Squeeze. After a two-year absence it's great to have them back on disc, even with another of those terminally cute album titles that make people smile indulgently when friends tell them to buy it. Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook will not be compared here with Lennon and McCartney. They're probably sick of those comparisons, since only one of the eight albums they've made together has gone gold—a "greatest hits" package that suggests people have liked the singles better than the albums. As songwriters, Difford and Tilbrook don't need to stretch toward more ambitious formulas or unleash brow-busting "concept" albums. The well they've been tapping for 12 years is bubbling still. Squeeze is a jaunty band, rhythmically brisk, melodically sinuous, with one of pop's most infectious lead singers in the elastic-voiced Tilbrook. Guitarist Difford sings lead about once an album, and his dry, froggy voice provides welcome contrast, as on the acrobatic line of Striking Matches, a chugging Squeezian groover about a memorable morning after. A few well-placed horn riffs by Tilbrook on the scampering Hourglass, some female background vocals and good keyboard detailing by Julian Holland are as close as Squeeze comes to demonstrating growth. The only thing about the band that needs to grow is the size of its audience. Why it hasn't remains one of rock's minor mysteries. (A & M)

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