Monday, November 13, 2017

SQUEEZE: Spaz reviews THE KNOWLEDGE!

SQUEEZE
THE KNOWLEDGE

Available NOW!

Up through their fourth album, EAST SIDE STORY, in 1981, Squeeze albums were usually pretty immediate, hook-wise. The band would hit you with a bunch of gloriously melodic songs - penned by Glenn Tilbrook (music) and Chris Difford (lyrics)- that you would fall in love with on first listen. However, things changed when SWEETS FROM A STRANGER was released the following year. There were certainly songs that grabbed your attention right away but roughly half the album took a few spins to sink into your system. It was as if the songs were meant to be absorbed instead of heard. For the most part, every Squeeze album since then (including the DIFFORD & TILBROOK album) has followed that very same pattern. The pay-off has always been the same – complete and utter joy - but Tilbrook’s melodies seem to have taken on much more depth as he matured as a songwriter.  The chord progressions are uniquely TIlbrookian and the later songs have many more layers than classic tracks like “Is That Love” or “Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)”. Revisionist history tells us that Squeeze albums were always great on the first listen but in all actuality, many have been ‘growers’. And that usually means that the album has legs and is not likely to fade from your consciousness anytime soon. Tilbrook’s ever-expanding box of chords, various producers and labels and a revolving line-up has made it difficult for some to keep up with Squeeze, but the journey has been worth it. So, how does their 2017 album THE KNOWLEDGE measure up?  Read on, my friends…




While Difford and Tilbrook’s relationship has had its ups and downs over the years, the duo keeps returning to the Squeeze fold and pleasing fans with electrifying live shows and the occasional album. In 2015, the band released CRADLE TO THE GRAVE, their first album of new material since 1998’s DOMINO. Much like their sorely overlooked ‘90s output, CRADLE TO THE GRAVE found the band mixing the spirit and energy of their younger days with contemporary production. Squeeze are well aware of their legacy but they don’t keep re-writing the same old riffs. However, CRADLE TO THE GRAVE sounded like the album Squeeze thought their fans would appreciate. A ‘thank you’ of sorts. And they were right. Still remaining true to themselves, the band did play it a bit safe on CRADLE TO THE GRAVE. In a sense, they were dipping their toes in the water. Now, two years later, the band steps out on a limb and offers up perhaps the most adventurous album since EAST SIDE STORY. THE KNOWLEDGE is most certainly a Squeeze album – there’s no shortage of great lyrics, vocals and cracking melodies – but they are not afraid to stir the musical pot a little. Sometimes a lot.


“Please Be Upstanding” is a glorious Pop nugget, a slice of classic Squeeze with the added bonus of pedal steel guitar (an instrument that appears quite frequently throughout the album). “Rough Ride” is a funky gem featuring a choir, an opera singer, a wailing trumpet and the kitchen sink. “Departure Lounge” is a lovely, haunting track that will remind fans of “The Elephant Ride” off SWEETS FROM A STRANGER. “Innocence In Paradise” has a slight Psych edge with a swirling melody and those classic harmonies from Glenn and Chris. “A & E” find the band’s sound parachuting into Memphis with a tight horn section, soulful backing vocals and piano work that recalls Steve Nieve (The Attractions) and Mike Barson (Madness). “Patchouli” is an upbeat Country shuffle with gorgeous backing vocals. ”Every Story” is one of those quirky gems with rhythmic twists that Tilbrook has perfected over the years. “The Ones” features an outstandingly soulful vocal from Glenn. “Elmer’s End” is an instrumental with different hooks hidden amongst the song’s layers – you’ll latch on to one of the different melodies each time you listen to it. The album’s playful closer, “Two Forks,” deviates from what you’d expect as well, solidifying the fact that you’ve just experienced a creatively rejuvenated band. Push play and experience again. Repeat as necessary.


If you’re hoping for a new ARGYBARGY or COOL FOR CATS, then go out and buy new copies of those albums. If you want to hear what Squeeze is up today, then head down to your local music store and pick up THE KNOWLEDGE. It is an inspiring album that draws the line between then and now and has its eyes firmly on the future. This is Squeeze’s most consistent album since the sorely under-rated PLAY (an album that took many listens to sink in) and offers up many new surprises with each spin. A joy from beginning to end… and by the third listen, you’ll be filled with THE KNOWLEDGE!






SQUEEZE:


Glenn Tilbrook – vocals, guitar, keyboard
Chris Difford – vocals; guitar 
Yolanda Charles – bass
Stephen Large – keyboards
Simon Hanson – drums
Steve Smith – percussion



Keep on truckin'
Stephen SPAZ Schnee



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