Pandemonium Ensues – first listen review
I’m just about to listen to Pandemonium Ensues – the new album from Glenn Tilbrook and The Fluffers. Here goes – I’ll type as I listen.
From the opening salvo of joyous music with a convoluted story and impassioned vocals you just know you’re going to love Pandemonium Ensues. Reminiscent of the best of Play and Frank, the standout opening track Best Of Times is a cracker. It’s a good as anything Glenn ever did with Squeeze, but with a modern brilliantly produced twist. It’s just got to be about as personal a song as Glenn has written. “We have two boys and my previous two make four.”
The piano on Through The Net and the complex arrangement are classic songwriting. God this is great! “Her parents were acquainted, yes, with the social services.” Wow this is hilarious. Everything you ever loved about Squeeze is here – strange timing shifts, stomping rhythms, far, far too many words, mentions of Captain Pugwash, and forced rhymes – but this time it actually seems trendy!
What a shift track three Product is – a refreshing change – and lots of great instrumentation. The whole effect is of a classic 60’s theme with soaring strings. One noticeable thing about the whole album is just how LIVELY the whole thing is. There’s great use of backing vocals throughout. If you ever liked It’s So Dirty or Misadventure, then Slaughtered Artist is for you – this is heavy and seems to get faster and more frantic even though you don’t think it can. Simon Hanson’s drumming comes to the fore as there are interesting tom toms as well as the heavy thrash.
Well, it’s time for the single Still – deservedly on the Radio 2 playlist and sounding every bit like a classic Al Green track from his Hi years – or maybe even Terence Trent Darby if your references are 80s rather than 60s or 70s. This is a Fluffers album you can dance to! Sti-i-i-il, Sti-i-i-il… Sorry – too busy dancing to type there.
Beach Boys time now on Relentless Pursuit. Glenn’s voice is sounding just fine as we’re into yet another incredibly memorable, poppy, upbeat classic of sing-along joy. “A pleasure turned into another chore” – I don’t think so! This is a Glenn / Squeeze album I can play full volume and my kids aren’t asking me to turn it down. There’s a rich, warm, live sound to all the tracks which never compromises when it needs to be a little jarring or edgy. This is good. “Somebody please turn out the light.”
Melancholy Emotion “I’m still around while plenty are not.” And now we’ve covered country, soul and pop it must be time for a little reggae influence. All the classic sounds of Ridiculous and Babylon And On are here but in a noughties way. Oh – it’s just got all funky on me – and now there’s a classic Tilbrook guitar solo. There’s nothing melancholy about the music so as usual a juxtaposition of a depressing lyric with a jolly tune. Classic repeat to fade, too.
What’s this La–la–la-la. Ahhhh. Ahhhh. Ahhhh. Glenn does spoken word sections? “Don’t make me break down.” Oh yes, “Then a bearded man in a pickup…” This is just hilarious and passionate at the same time. Nobody else could possibly have written and performed this. It’s just so full of personality. Handclaps to finish.
Now we’re into Indian influenced music, backwards sounds and reminders of how great some of Sweets From A Stranger was. Woops! Handclaps again. Baa, baa, baa it’s time for that Black Sheep once more in a feel-good sing-along extravaganza which only occasionally goes off the rails. Now there are easy listening horns and brass playing. What are they playing at! Ha ha ha!! Sorry, I just can’t help laughing!!!!! Then there’s another classic guitar solo.
Time for a Hendrix interlude with a riff borrowed and bettered in Beachland Ballroom. How many artists would record a three-minute advert for a venue and put it on their album as a standout track? “Jukeboxes blasting out some killer vinyl tunes.” Little Ships reminds me of tracks on Domino but in a good way. The ships are a metaphor for your children growing up and moving away on “A solo life adventure.” Then it’s an instrumental romp with narration by Johnny Depp (yes, really) and then silence.
His best album ? As good as anything else he’s done? Including the classic Squeeze years? Yes.
What do you think?
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