Cradle to the Grave

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Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook reunited in 2007, but for the first few years the revived Squeeze were nothing more than a touring act, ducking into the studio to re-record their hits in 2010 (the perfectly fine Spot the Difference) but taking their time to write a new batch of songs. That long-awaited reunion record, entitled Cradle to the Grave, finally appeared in the autumn of 2015, eight years after the reunion started and 17 years after Squeeze's last album, Domino. Remarkably, especially given its mortality-obsessed title, Cradle to the Grave doesn't play like a revival, nor does it seem concerned with modern fashion. Difford and Tilbrook simply pick up the thread they left hanging in the '90s, acting as if no time has passed. Happily, the pair does not seem as knackered as they did on Domino, a record where they seemed to limp along out of habit. Without consciously reviving any specific Squeeze era -- the closest companion this album has may be the early-'90s efforts, such as Play and Some Fantastic Place -- Cradle to the Grave relies on the sharp melodic construction of Tilbrook and Difford's diffident wit, a combination the crackles throughout this lean 44-minute record. Although there's little doubt this is first and foremost a pop album constructed almost entirely out of tight three- to four-minute tunes, what Squeeze celebrate is classic pop aesthetics, not sound: perhaps the Tamla-Motown bounce of the title track is expected, but the glitterball disco that follows on "Nirvana" is not, and the record is filled with such sly curveballs, finding a bit of earthiness in the majestic contours of the Beach Boys and splendor within boozy singalongs. When applied to such sturdy songs, these grace notes make Cradle to the Grave feel nothing less than celebratory, an affirmation of Difford and Tilbrook's special chemistry as songwriters and bandleaders.

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