Instantly recognisable as one of — if not the main — name behind perennial favourites Squeeze, Glenn Tilbrook’s fifth non-Squeeze album is what you’d expect from one of the best songwriters of recent times: thoroughly pleasant and easy to listen to, full of instant hooks, catchy tunes and the usual assemblage of cleverly crafted lyrics.
Building on the momentum of working on a new Squeeze album, Happy Ending sees Tilbrook reverting to a solo piece of work using acoustic and string arrangements, which give the album a bigger sound than simple acoustic guitar.The album art and typography combine to give a retrospective feel.
Tilbrook has said Happy Ending is alongside his favourite albums (of the ones he’s made) and it’s not hard to see why. Full of Tilbrook wit, which makes even the dullest or riskiest subject sound like a feel-good tune. Peter (one of several songs based round boys’ names) is all about the tentative steps into shoplifting and where it leads.
Rupert is a reference to Mr Murdoch and a hostile review of the practices of the tabloid Press. There are lighter moments: Bongo Bill, featuring young Leon Tilbrook, has a suspiciously familiar tune used by a certain postman and his black and white cat, and there’s the all-join-in album closer Ice Cream.
For a splash of something a bit more left field try Mud Island with lyrics that talk of once-a-week baths and secret stashes of nudie mags, yet poignantly recalls “it takes forever to grow up and then it’s done”.
Time may judge Glenn Tilbrook as a challenger to songwriters like the great Sir McCartney (there’s a clear Beatles influence throughout).
Happy Ending is nothing less than a delight from start to finish.