Picks and Pans Review: Frank

updated 01/08/1990 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/08/1990 01:00AM

Squeeze

The whiny 1982 single "Black Coffee in Bed" left an annoying blot on Squeeze's career. But this, the British quintet's fine eighth album, works like one of those magical stain-removers you see on late-night TV.

Frank succeeds most of all when it shifts away from standard-issue, new wave Squeeze mode. Lead singer Glenn Till-brook, whose pleasant yet limited voice sounds quite stale after a few numbers, wisely hands over the mike at times to keyboardist Jools Holland and lead guitarist Chris Difford. These standby singers make up for a lack of vocal control with heaping doses of charm. Difford's gruff delivery of "Slaughtered, Gutted and Heartbroken" makes it one of the most entertaining Squeeze plays to date. The band takes off in another promising direction as the varied singers harmonize Four Seasons style on the swirling "Love Circles."

Frank includes a batch of songs with very catchy melodies and insightful lyrics padded by some meandering, overwrought duds. Consistently inconsistent, Squeeze can't live up to the exaggerated praise of critics who, inspired by Tillbrook's McCartneyesque singing, have compared this band with the Beatles. They are not the Fab Five. They're List a talented pop group, and Frankly speaking, that's good enough. (A&M)

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