"ridiculous": reviews 

From MOJO, December 95 
by Will Birch 

  • Their fourteenth platter. 
  • Thirteen pristine Difford/Tilbrook creations plus one from long-serving bassist Keith Wilkinson. 
For 17 years or more, human word machine Chris Difford has presented lyrics to Glenn Tilbrook, who has composed the heavenly melodies that he sings honey-voiced. Perfection, songwriting the old-fashioned way; each a master of hie chosen craft in a marriage that appears unthreatened by infidelity.  

Difford and Tilbrook are, in fact, a model of loyalty- to each other, to Squeeze and to the rock-a-beat song ethic. Although there have been, let's be honest, some lacklustre releases in recent years, the Squeeze sound has remained constant and reassuring, inspiring further loyalty among the fans who pray for a glimmer of the genius that ignited Cool For Cats, Argybargy, and East Side Story some 15 years ago.  

You will find that glimmer here in Electric Trains, their best song in ages. Its melody will sweep you along, its hooks will nag you and hold you, and its words will make nearly everything on your body stand up. This tale of growing up under a hail of 45s and parental love is a celebration of pop, "from Julie Andrews to...Jerry Garcia", and if you're a dewy-eyed pop romantic of a certain vintage, the song will transport you back to a time when the Triang catalogue and the Elvis 78 competed for your affections.  

There are further gems, namely This Summer, Lost for Words and Daphne, plus a few lesser items, making up a grand total of 14 stonking tracks. The sound is lush and the vocals soar. Hardened Squeeze fans will not be disappointed, while everyone else will thrill to the ridiculous Electric Trains. 

From Vox Magazine, December 1995: 

    Age catches up with the South London likely lads. The grey hairs show, the paunches form, the mortgages pile up, and still they adjust to changes with stoic resignation. Squeeze's millionth LP has a lyrical verve and a slight musical swagger you'd think was now beyond them. Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford look back with nostalgia, look forward with cynicism and throw in the kitchen sink with saccharine arrangements, yet somehow they keep up to date. Extra points for mentioning Jerry Garcia before he died. 6/10.


From Q Magazine, 1995. 
Reviewed by Tom Doyle. 
Rating: *** (out of 5) 

    Quite likely miffed at having had their commercial thunder stolen by Crowded House with an often uncanny approximation of their sound, Squeeze trundle onwards with Ridiculous, an album which follows Glenn Tilbrook's period of solo pub gig slumming and Chris Difford's co-writerly dalliance with Wet Wet Wet. Little has changed - 13 crisply produced and tightly performed tracks, deft lyrical touches (rhyming judge and jury with Nana Mouskouri in Daphne, Up The Junction-styled domestic drama in Great Escape) and accomplished vocal deliveries from Tilbrook, comfortably assisted by Difford's muted baritone. As ever, it's a mixture between the perkily upbeat (This Summer, Electric Trains) and the craftfully-honed ballad (Temptation For Love, Got To Me), but it still lacks the strongly memorable melody hooks of their heyday.

Squeeze: 'Ridiculous'  

By Geoffrey Himes 
Special to The Washington Post 
July 10, 1996 

    When bands are described as "Beatlesque" these days, it doesn't mean that these groups resemble the raw and rowdy Beatles of "Twist and Shout" or "I Saw Her Standing There." Instead the term Beatlesque has come to have a very limited definition that refers to the intensely melodic, highly refined, vaguely literary pop-rock of Paul McCartney's compositions from Rubber Soul through Let It Be. Within these narrow confines, however, Beatlesque bands such as Crowded House, Squeeze, XTC, Split Enz, Jellyfish and Greenberry Woods have carved out very fruitful careers. 

    Composer Glenn Tilbrook and lyricist Chris Difford, who have led Squeeze for 23 years now, have been pursuing the Beatlesque approach longer and more consistently than anyone. The latest version of Squeeze, which appears July 24 at the 9:30 club, finds Tilbrook and Difford joined by bassist Keith Wilkinson and drummer Kevin Wilkinson. This quartet made Ridiculous (I.R.S.), a new album that once again illustrates how the undeniable cleverness of Tilbrook and Difford can be both a weakness and a strength. Cleverness is a liability when the melodies become so convoluted and arbitrary and the lyrics so esoteric and pun-filled that the songs lose the illusion of conversation. 

    On the other hand, cleverness can be an invaluable asset when an unexpected chord change lifts a catchy melody into a higher emotional plane or when a surprising verbal detour reveals more about the singer than it obscures. It happens more often than not on Ridiculous. On "This Summer," for example, the swaying music and dreamy words work hand-in-hand to conjure up a Beach Boys-like vision of a utopian summer. On both "Grouch of the Day" and "Lost for Words," Difford pokes fun at his own bad moods and allows them to dissolve in Tilbrook's drum-driven melodies and sunny tenor voice. Best of all is "Electric Trains," a sharply sketched memoir of discovering puberty, "The Sound of Music" and the Grateful Dead all at the same time.


by Brett Milano, Boston Phoenix. 
August 1, 1996. 

    What the hell do Squeeze have to do to get people's attention nowadays? Writing good songs doesn't work, since they've been doing that for years. Recapturing the feel of their early stuff didn't work either -- they did that on 1993's overlooked Some Fantastic Place. And linking up with hot young acts hasn't helped; Squeeze got endorsed by Blur last year and covered one of their songs on an import single, yet hardly anyone noticed. 

    So here's another real good Squeeze album that nobody seems to care about (the demise of IRS doesn't help). The songs are great, the harmonies are stellar, and the band generally sound fine, even if the line-up now boils down to singers/writers Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook with hired help. The songs are some of the least humorous and most blatantly grown-up Difford/Tilbrook have written. "Electric Trains" is autobiographical; "I Want You" is a first-rate soul ballad; "Walk Away" is an ambitious failed-romance song with the best lead vocal Tilbrook's ever cut. Throw in a cheerful seasonal single in the "Pulling Mussels" vein ("This Summer") and a couple of Difford's endearingly croaky vocal turns and Squeeze's status as pop's most underrated vets remains secure.

by Dan Aquilante, NY Post, Tuesday June 11:  

Breezy, pleasing Squeeze  

* * * 
IRS Records 

 Banking on the fact that well-crafted songs featuring memorable melodies and lyrics with a sense of story never go out of style, pop masters Squeeze (featuring Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook) today release the latest chapter of a songbook that they've been building for more than 20 years.  

On the current dis, "Ridiculous" Difford and Tilbrook never really rock on any of the 14 new songs, yet each one is a catchy number that delivers song vignettes, mostly about love and growing up, with peppy enthusiasm.  

At the height of their popularity in the early '80s, Squeeze aspired to being, and were heralded as, the Lennon/McCartney of their generation. Yet, unlike the Beatles, who were musical daredevils willing to try anything, Squeeze found its formula early and never really tampered with the mix.  

Fans will be relieved that "Ridiculous" stays on the well-worn Squeeze path, but others might find this disc is only a slight variation on the same theme. Music is a risky business and Squeeze is a franchise that has made a policy of not fixing what isn't broken.  

That said, "Ridiculous" is a hook-filled collection that is unmistakably Squeeze. The punchy melodies support lyrics that are filled with details. One of the most interesting elements in a Difford/Tilbrook song is how all the insignificant, seemingly unrelated details come together to make a story almost like an album of snapshots. The remembrances-of-things-past style is most effective on the album's first single, "This Summer" a breezy tune about being desperately in love.  

Most of the music on "Ridiculous" is fueled by the absolute youthful optimism that powers and pressures many Squeeze tunes. However, there is one song that is dark and different on the disc. The pain-filled tune, "Great Escape," is about an alcoholic's life and wife unraveling. It opens with a typical Squeeze balance of near-perfect meter, rhyme and wit: "Sitting there at home he arrived home late, with no more blood cells to inebriate." That cute opening line ultimately gives way to the terror of rape, a woman's escape from the house, the man's pathetic begging to get her back - all setting the stage for the same psychodrama to play out the next night. The heartbreaking cycle of "Great Escape" is a far cry from "Cool For Cats" or "Pulling Mussels," yet this unsettling tune makes the other love songs (including "Daphne," the song from which the title is gleaned) more believable.  

"Ridiculous" is as consistent as one would expect from two of the United Kingdom's best songwriters. Those who like Squeeze will find "Ridiculous" has the band slowing its skid into obscurity that started with their '90 disc "Round and a Bout" and continued with "Play." 

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