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Since their second album, Squeeze's strength was the craftsmanship of Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook. Early in their career, they began perfecting pop songwriting, and even after the hits stopped coming in 1987, they were extraordinarily reliable, contributing a handful of memorable, sophisticated pop gems on each album. Perhaps such a consistent track record meant that they were due for a dud like 1998's Domino. All the familiar elements are in place, but nothing really clicks -- the melodies never grab hold, the performances are rote, the record sounds flat. Its predecessor, Ridiculous, a vibrant album with several true Squeeze classics (including the wonderful, inspired "Electric Trains"), makes the weaknesses of Domino all the clearer. Domino sounds workmanlike, not like the work of craftsman. It's a dogged, predictable album without any of the small musical or lyrical flourishes that have graced every other Squeeze album. It feels rushed, as if they had to turn out an album instead of wanting to record one -- which is quite strange, considering it's the first album they've recorded for their own label. No doubt Domino is just a slump -- as previous albums have proved, Difford and Tilbrook's gifts have only deepened with age -- but it's a disappointment, nevertheless.

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