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CD: Squeeze - Cradle to the Grave | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Squeeze - Cradle to the Grave

CD: Squeeze - Cradle to the Grave

Wise old south London rockers wander fruitfully down memory lane

Steeped in nostalgia: 'Cradle to the Grave', Squeeze's first studio album in 17 years

The album of the sitcom. You don’t get a lot of those, and technically – beyond the title song – you don’t get one here either. “Cradle to the Grave” is the theme tune for Danny Baker’s autobiographical comedy currently on BBC Two, based on his memoir of growing up in south London in the same vicinity as Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook. In fact, the song came first. Squeeze’s 14th studio album, their first since 1998, has been several years in the brewing: they resumed touring in 2007 and pondered writing new material four years ago. The result is that rock’n’roll collectors’ item, an album not only steeped in nostalgia but also honest about the day-to-day realities of middle age.

“Nirvana” is a classic Squeeze narrative song, as rich in observed detail as “Cool for Cats”, about a couple falling apart after the kids have left home (“He quivered with ambition/She fell into a rut”). The cheerful antidote is “Happy Days” about hopping off for a weekend in the country. “Open”, complete with backing vocals, is a heart-warming snapshot of a wedding in a church. “Only 15” finds a parent setting a curfew for his daughter. Other songs take the form of mini-memoirs: “Beautiful Game” pays homage to the days when football had local roots; “Sunny” and “Top of the Form” both visit the musical influences of youth.

They’re older and plumper, but this is a band that still sounds very much like itself thanks to the ageless vocal pairing of Tilbrook’s yearning tenor and Difford’s bass growls. After all these years Tilbrook hasn't lost the knack for imaginative melodies, while Difford’s lyrics are still an enthusiastic verbal pile-up (sometimes causing a stress to land jarringly on the wrong syllable). And while there are new instrumental backdrops, all along there are echoes of yesteryear – a bit of Boomtown Rats piano, the Style Council’s noodly major sevenths, even a string quartet reminiscent of “Eleanor Rigby”.

Forget the sitcom. Cradle to the Grave feels more like the promising first step on the road to a stage musical.

Overleaf: watch Squeeze perform "Cradle to the Grave" on Later

 

They’re older and plumper, but this is a band that still sounds very much like itself

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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