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music reviewmusic reviewmusic review  out of 4 Music Review: Domino

Artist: Squeeze
Genre: Rock/Pop
Release Date: September 1999

Review by JaredD
4 stars out of 4

For over twenty years, Squeeze has put out one great album after another. "Domino" is no exception.  While the band may have faltered a little with "Sweets From a Stranger" in '82, and "Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti" in '85, the band has fed their fans on a steady diet of delicious tunes. Just one of many i on this album is it's opener "Play On", a song about the perils faced on the way to stardom.  "Play On " is followed by a song entitled "Bonkers".   This song is helmed by chris Difford on lead vocals, and is the first song to be sung by Difford since the two he sang on "Frank".  This is a wonderful song, and Chris Difford's voice is perfect for it. Check out the albums title track.  In my opinion, it's the best Squeeze song ever. It's got a great tune, and Difford's lyrics are unbelievably good.  Domino is followed by rock's best song about fatherhood, "To Be a Dad".

I could say a lot more about this album, but it's better if you check it out for yourselves.  I dare any listener to find a bad song. It's quite definitely Squeeze's best album ever.

Review by LarryG
3½ stars out of 4

Domino is a solid, if unspectacular, record, showing Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook aging fairly gracefully with their ability to make a likable pop song still intact. With all due respect to my colleague JaredD, Domino is clearly not Squeeze's best album ever. Squeeze's best records are Argybargy and Eastside Story. The comparisons of Difford & Tillbrook's songwriting talents with those of Lennon & McCartney critics made when those albums came out in the early 80's weren't completely hype. Squeeze had the Beatlesque ability to make varied songs which were fun and had some depth. Squeeze's problem was that they weren't making music in the mid 60's. Fans expect more to their music now. Difford & Tilbrook undoubtedly felt the pressure to justify the praise of their songwriting. The results were Sweets From a Stranger and Difford and Tilbrook, ambitious and largely unsuccessful attempts to broaden their sound with synthesizers and a denser sound. Squeeze dealt with the subsequent drop in popularity and importance to critics by returning to their strength, making great pop songs. They couldn't recapture the greatness of their classics as their youthful exuberance and cockiness waned. They have made good records with only slightly diminishing returns as their music has gotten a little quieter. Since 1991's brilliant, coherent Play, their ambitions have become a little more modest. It seemed they were running out of gas on their last CD, Ridiculous but they return to decent form on Domino. There is one great song, the title track. Domino has a great, cool attitude like Eastside Story's Someone Else's Bell. It has a smooth bluesy groove created by Tilbrook's subtle guitar and Chris Holland's keyboards. Difford's lyrics tell the funny story of a drunken buffoon who is still able(at least in his own mind) to charm a dance partner and a female cop who stops his car. Domino has the arrangement of classic Squeeze with Difford's deep voice underlining Tilbrook's. Difford's croaked vocals are technically inferior to Tilbrook's but can be effective in creating a fun, sleazy mood on songs like Babylon and On's Striking Matches. On Domino, Difford nearly steals the show from Tilbrook with his two songs. On Bonkers, Difford voice is perfect to play an amusingly contrite male pig. Admitting that he has his brains in his pants, he observes that the size of a woman's breasts would be perfect to "comfort me on winter nights." On Short Break, the most daring song on the album, Difford's spoken vocals create a cool, noirish atmosphere.

I'll take JaredD's dare to find a bad song. What's Wrong With This Picture and Donkey Talk are bad songs. They have the facade of maturity but are just boring and draggy, working against the band's strength in making tuneful, fun, well made records. Tilbrook has a good, sweet, fluid voice but it doesn't have much soul and can be a little fey if not working on material with a little edge. What's Wrong With This Picture keeps repeating the same idea of being with a woman who's physically present but mentally absent. Musically, it never recovers from a very wimpy start. Donkey Talk, about a once passionate relationship now turned awkward, is a yawner. A Moving Story does tell a nice story of a woman who flees her old life and successfully starts again. With references to Clapham and vivid scenes of evolving lives, it invites comparison to Up The Junction from Cool For Cats and measures up unfavorably. A Moving Story seems more adult and complex but doesn't have the musical heft of the simplistic but undeniably moving earlier song. While the songs often aren't too deep, Squeeze's pop skills are almost always evident. To Be a Dad is nice, if slight. Tilbrook sweetly sings Difford's lyrics about sometimes being a screwup but knowing the importance of being a dutiful father and loving the responsibility. Sleeping With a Friend is a pleasant throwaway about the many down sides of taking the title's action. In the Morning is also not too original but has the stirring momentum, created by a good bass line and Tilbrook's driving guitar and ebullient vocals on the chorus, the band has always been able to create. Play On is fairly genial musically but its lyrics are a fairly scathing indictment of young musicians more interested in the trappings of fame than the music. After the title track, Little King may be the most obvious keeper. Difford's lyrics have the charm of a contemporary bedtime story and Tilbrook's music has a relaxed grandeur.

Domino is not Squeeze's best but it is pretty good and it's good news that, even with success far behind them, they're still working at making good pop songs.



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