Wow, my second blog post within a week! Let’s see how often I stay this active. Anyway, I thought I’d offer a record review of Glenn Tilbrook and The Fluffers’ new album, Pandemonium Ensues, which features a guest appearance from Johnny. I should preface this by saying I’ve never been a huge fan of Tilbrook or Squeeze. I’ve long heard lots of accolades and praise for Squeeze, but songs like Pulling Mussels From A Shell or Black Coffee In Bed never caught my interest quite enough to really pursue that band’s music; I guess it was just not a genre for me. On the other hand, this allows me to listen to the album without any preconceived notions of what Glenn’s music should sound like, so I can just enjoy the music on its own terms.
All in all, I enjoyed the record more than I expected to. There is a range of styles, and some work better for me than others. I have a feeling that the songs that work best for me are the ones that sound the least “Squeeze-like” to my uneducated ear. The first single, Still, along with songs like Little Ships and Interest & Love, the latter of which features lovely vocals by Vanessa Paradis, strike me as the type of easy-listening Brit Pop that I was expecting. They are enjoyable enough, but not particularly engaging to me. On the other hand, Product, featuring lead vocals by the Fluffers’ bassist, Lucy Shaw, is perhaps a little too experimental and bizarre. Another more experimental, techno-sounding song is Happy Disposition, and I’m still deciding what to think of that one. At the least, Glenn should be given credit for trying things.
However, I had no trouble getting into the harder rock songs, Slaughtered Artist and Beachland Ballroom. Though The Net and Melancholy Emotion remind me a lot of Paul McCartney, and are catchy, memorable pop tunes. Black Sheep is an odd one that reminds me somewhat disconcertingly of The Monkees– perhaps something that Davy Jones would sing. At first, the song seemed silly and a little annoying: “Baa baa baa baa baa, black sheep.” Really?? But I am starting to find myself going along for the ride, because it’s such a sweet tune. Relentless Pursuit is a standout with gorgeous harmonies that are reminiscent of both The Beach Boys and, more recently, The Polyphonic Spree. My favorite song on the album so far is the opening number, Best Of Times, with an infectious Cajun-style sound, which really draws the listener in right off the bat.
And what of Johnny’s guest spot on Too Close To The Sun? Well, it sure is different! This techno tune isn’t one I’d automatically choose as a favorite musical style, but yet, it’s a fun, psychedelic melody that reminds me a lot of 60’s soundtracks with maybe a little 70’s prog-rock thrown in. It’s a cool way to top off the record, and Johnny is game to play along, with his repetition of the line, “Too close to the sun.” Don’t forget to listen with earphones! Johnny gets to mix it up at the end by saying, in a rather Jack Sparrow-like voice, “Whose son are we talking about?” Heh.
According to an interview Glenn gave in the Newark Star-Ledger, the song was originally going to be called “The 13th Bar”, and was going to feature a friend of Glenn’s named Pete. The band would count out 13 bars, and then Pete would recite the line. However, poor Pete got bumped once Glenn had the chance to invite Johnny to guest. Now, try counting the bars, if you can! It’s easy to get mixed up, and once or twice when I tried, the line seemed to come in a little early or late, but that could’ve been me miscounting! Or maybe they decided not to keep the count so rigid when they changed the title. But most of the time, especially in the middle portion, I counted 13. At any rate, I thought that was a cool little tidbit.
In summary, I find Pandemonium Ensues to be a cool, very listenable album, with some average but agreeable ditties, along with some standouts.
3 stars (out of 5)