For their seventh album, “Squeeze decided to return to the more straight-ahead pop of their classic period” (Woodstra). Babylon and On strips back a bit and, although the return is a welcomed one (Woodstra) “with hooks that make sly demands on the attention of the listener” (Amazon.com), “much of the material misses the mark, and the move seems a little forced. Flaws aside, there are some moments of inspiration” (Woodstra).
With a tongue-twister lightning-speed chorus, Hourglass “became the band's biggest Stateside hit” (Woodstra) and “revels in Squeeze's signature sound: idiosyncratically structured choruses made inviting by the enthusiasm of multiple voices” (Amazon.com). It definitely has pop appeal, but it is sad to think that masterpieces like “Tempted,” “Up the Junction,” and “Black Coffee in Bed” were dwarfed by this “near-novelty” (Woodstra) song.
Footprints and 853-5937 are two of Squeeze’s weaker singles releases. They aren’t entirely without witty lines or catchy hooks, but they pale in comparison to previous classics like “Cool for Cats” and “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell).”
The first half of the album is also doomed with several filler songs. “Tough Love presents another one of their finely detailed little vignettes” (Amazon.com). While it may be lyrically interesting, it makes for one of the weak points of the album, along with The Prisoner and In Today’s Room.
The second half of the album is much stronger. "Trust Me to Open My Mouth offers a narrator flawed in familiar ways” (Amazon.com). ”It kicks butt all over the place, with a great harmony arrangement and a compelling bass line” (Alroy).
That song then launches into Striking Matches, a Difford-sung song that would have fit comfortably on previous album Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti, Squeeze’s welcome return after a three-year layoff.
Things just keep kicking with Cigarette of a Single Man. This song fits comfortably into the role of a classic Squeeze song overshadowed by the album’s hit singles. With Argybargy, it was “Separate Beds;” on East Side Story it was a pair of songs with “Messed Around” and “Vanity Fair.” Here, “Cigarette” unnecessarily plays second fiddle to “Hourglass” and “Trust Me to Open My Mouth.” This is the kind of song that may not musically overwhelm you, but you’ll find yourself bopping along to it as you back up to play the song again to listen to the catchy lyrics.
The album closes out with three strong songs that are still easy to overlook after the strong trifecta that they follow. Who Are You? is a decent toe-tapper, followed by a smooth ballad in The Waiting Game. Things wrap up with Some Americans, which hits on the familiar British perspective that Squeeze brings to many of their songs as they sing “about how they really don't understand Americans” (Christgau).
Chop out a few of the dead weight songs and replace them with that era’s B-side “Wedding Bells” and “What Have They Done,” from the When the Wind Blows soundtrack and you have a perfect album. Even as is, though, “Squeeze [have] fashioned a fully engaging album” (Amazon.com).