Review of Glenn Tilbrook and The Fluffers' album 'Pandemonium Ensues' released through Quixotic Records.
It's easy to see why Glenn Tilbrook had to get out from under the crushing legacy of Squeeze; despite a number of releases since their pub rock heyday, for the vast majority of their fanbase the South Londoner's careers may as well have ended with the final chords of Labelled With Love. This in spite of the fact that the group arguably made substantively better music in their latter period, a point underlined by the likes of the long forgotten Third Rail and This Summer.
Tilbrook was of course the music whilst Chris Difford was the words, an arrangement which probably makes it far easier to escape the clichéd world of box jacketed geezers selling hooky watches down the rub a dub for a pony or a monkey. And despite the laddish connotations of his backing band's name (Look it up) Pandemonium Ensues is in essence a languid cocktail of rock-and-stuff-and-roll for grown ups.
It also starts with two songs which in any sane society would be contenders for chart domination;
opener Best of Times is a sparkling Cajun jig full of life affirmation, whilst Through The Net is a thumping, ASBO's clutched around the old joanner tale of prodigal sons and daughters. Both are proof positive that Tilbrook is a bona fide songwriter, but it's hard to escape the feeling that on most other occasions he's trying a little too hard; Shattered Artist thrashes around without much purpose, Happy Disposition idles in neutral and these along with the threadbare ideas of Relentless Pursuit make a fourteen track running order look decidedly ambitious.
It's testament to his pulling power that there are contributions from Johnny Depp (The five spoken words on the otherwise cheesy lounge instrumental Too Close To The Sun) and Vanessa Paradis (A slightly more impactful contribution of vocals on the soulful Interest & Love). But whilst Pandemonium Ensues is full of craft, nice workmanship is the least we'd expect. Something's missing, and - bar irony - underneath the instrumental proficiency there's little for even the most dedicated listener to connect with. And that's definitely not Cool For Cats.