Squeeze, "Cradle to the Grave" (Love Records/Virgin EMI)
Squeeze, a band closely associated with the New Wave of the 1980s, is making new waves after a long layoff. Anybody tempted should check it out.
The nucleus of Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook has returned with others for a finely crafted collection of pop songs that approaches and at times rivals their best output, including the classic "Tempted." Many songs look back, lyrically and sonically, so it's no surprise that retro sounds are abundant. Still, it's no mere retread: There are flashes of psychedelia, baroque pop, jazz, disco, soul and full-tilt gospel — sometimes several in the same song.
"Cradle to the Grave" delights in its diversity and discrepancies: "Nirvana" is about a couple growing old and apart; "Open" reveals the inner human drama during a beautiful celebration; and "Sunny" — a string-drenched McCartney-esque charmer and album high point — tells a poignant tale of growing up that isn't always so sunny, even when Tilbrook sings that it is.
Squeeze has mastered the art of pop song craft, and only a few moments don't reach the high bar set by the collection. The jangly, languid "Everything" is decent but a better gift to someone like Oasis, should the Gallagher brothers ever bury the hatchet.
The pop music universe somehow seems back in orbit as Difford and Tilbrook, locked in their trademark octaves, make the first new Squeeze music since the late 1990s that nimbly harkens back and blazes new trails.
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