We wanted to use the word “genius” in the Rudimental and Richard Hawley reviews but couldn’t, because we also had Squeeze to write about. And they are: genius.
Despite buying Squeeze’s first three singles (Take Me, I’m Yours, the fairly terrible Bang Bang and Goodbye Girl) we never bought an album either then or through the string of hits (from Cool For Cats and Up the Junction to Labelled with Love) so this is the first Squeeze album we’ve played; we’re not what you might call fans. But we’d be staggered if anything they’ve done betters this, their first album of new material in 17 years. If there are awards to be won, they should win them.
It’s flawless song writing and rattles through a variety of influences, from typical Squeeze London rock to nods to everything from punk to the Beatles. The album is based on a new comedy based on the life of television presenter Danny Baker, which perhaps explains the nods to hits through the decades. Lyrically, they’re at the top of their game, writing mini epics in every song.
The title track Cradle to the Grave (“They say time will wait for no man / They say time is on my side / I could never make my mind up / As it all goes whizzing by”) is one of the more “typical” Squeeze.
Nirvana (which opens with the piano from Boomtown Rats’ Don’t Like Mondays before hitting a cheery near-disco beat) is about the gloom facing a married couple after the kids have left and “they would try to find something to say”.
Happy Days on the other hand (which seems to tip a hat to Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street) is about a weekend out of London in the countryside.
Open is about watching your child get married, while Only 15 is about a parent setting a curfew for their child, perhaps the same one. Sunny, with its clear Beatles sound, is about riding your bike, playing with your mates and discovering music (“I went to festivals and dropped out / That’s where I learned that I could fly”). Honeytrap seems to cite Supergrass and Caught By The Fuzz in the intro.
This is a wonderful album. If we had to find flaw, it would that (a bit like They Might Be Giants) the wordplay and story-telling are more important to full enjoyment than the actual music, and the latter has no consistent tone but it is, any complaints aside, a work of genius.