By the late '90s, Squeeze releases (Domino, in particular) had begun to feel workmanlike, but with two songwriters as brilliant and clever as Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, it seemed surprising. Following the tour behind Domino, Difford chose to stop touring, but Tilbrook wanted to continue on as he had before. This difference of opinion led Tilbrook to release his first album without Difford in nearly 25 years. The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook, titled by Tilbrook to reflect the improbability of going solo this late in his career, is a sparkling gem of a pop record. At once relaxed and meticulously crafted, it encapsulates all that has made Squeeze so great. Collaborating with artists such as Aimee Mann and Ron Sexsmith in the songwriting process, Tilbrook didn't completely go at it alone, but he did manage to craft an album as instantly accessible as anything Squeeze recorded. A bit of an R&B influence is tied in ("One Dark Moment"), as are Brian Wilson-like harmonies ("Morning"), but quintessential Squeeze songs are still sprinkled throughout. Synthesizers are more prevalent here than on the recent power poppy Squeeze discs, especially on songs like "Interviewing Randy Newman" and "Sunday Breakfast Treat," which sound like throwbacks to early Squeeze classics like "Goodbye Girl" and "Take Me, I'm Yours." And even though Chris Difford was responsible for writing most of the trademark quirky lyrics on Squeeze albums, Tilbrook manages to turn a good phrase himself. "Interviewing Randy Newman" is an especially good example; it's an autobiographical tale of an ill-fated interview Tilbrook conducted with the legendary Newman that Tilbrook himself says is "A true story. I wish it wasn't a true story, but it is." Being both clever and earnest were always two of the lyrical trademarks of Squeeze records. While fans may mourn the end (although it's more of a hiatus, according to Tilbrook) of the Difford/Tilbrook partnership, this release confirms that the magic is far from gone.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Damas