By Al Kaufman
Glenn Tilbrook's voice is mellifluous. It is both familiar and exciting. With Chris Difford in Squeeze, he created pop songs so ingenious it drew the band comparisons to a little songwriting team known as Lennon and McCartney.
Alone, Tilbrook still has the voice, and he can still write a catchy melody, but Difford was the lyricist of the Squeeze gems, and, although Tilbrook's Fluffers never leave him limp, they do not have the way with words that Difford does.
Pandemonium Ensues, Tilbrook's third post-Squeeze CD, has many mid-tempo bouncy songs that would make the cut on a Squeeze album, but never be one of the standout tracks. Only "Melancholy Emotion" achieves the pure pop bliss that was the staple for so many Squeeze classics.
Tilbrook tries to branch out more on this CD. "Slaughtered Artist" and "Beachland Ballroom" are full of hard rocking, big burping guitars to positive acclaim. And bassist Lucy Shaw's fragile lead vocals on "Product" offer a sort of exotic flavor.
Other experiments do not fare as well. "Relentless Pursuit," with cliched lines such as "You have what they call the magic touch / Turning water into wine," is a piece of techno-garbage. And he sounds like he's trying to get psychedelic, via the Rubber Soul-era Beatles, on "Happy Disposition," but he never fully throws himself into the idea and the result comes up wanting. But the worst is "Too Close to the Sun," a song that sounds like the Flaming Lips on heroin, and wastes the vocal "talents" of one Johnny Depp.
Live, Tilbrook is a lovable, disarming bloke. While he will no doubt feature many songs from Pandemonium Ensues, he is a man who knows from which side his bread is buttered. Expect many Squeeze songs sprinkled in with his solo stuff. Expect to be enthralled.