Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Argybargy marks huge creative leap for Squeeze

Squeeze : Another Nail In My Heart

In February of 1980 Squeeze released Argybargy, their third album and the one that converted me. It offers the kind of sophisticated pop Beatlemaniacs adore, with imaginative musical flourishes and breath-taking guitar solos. While Cool For Cats made Squeeze sound like a bunch of young men obsessed with sex and finding trouble because of it, Argybargy is a much more mature effort, a leap not unlike The Beatles from Help! to Rubber Soul.

The UK#17 single "Another Nail In My Heart" was the first taste of the new album, a pop confection with a brilliant guitar solo just :55 in. David Hepworth of Smash Hits predicted the song "Should see them back on the charts as soon as that hook line digs in". 

"Pulling Mussels From A Shell" is a clever memory of a holiday camp where women read Harold Robbins paperbacks or shop for trinkets for the mantelpiece while men fantasize about having motorboats and sexual trysts behind the chalet. "I Think I'm Go Go " is almost worthy of Sgt Peppers. The Lennon/McCartney comparisons were forthcoming.

In the meantime Argybargy got solid reviews in the UK. From Red Starr of Smash Hits a 9/10:

Much less immediate than the poppy "Cool For Cats", this shows a new more serious side to Squeeze. Basically they've grown up a bit - Chris Difford's lyrics are much more mature while still as clever and descriptive, and the music is also more sophisticated and developed but just as melodic and varied. Gets better with every play --an album they can be proud of. Best tracks: Pick any ten from ten.

Rolling Stone did not review the album but would later call claim Argybargy is where Squeeze hit its stride.

The Village Voice Pazz and Jop Critics Poll would see Argybargy finish #24, though Robert Christgau gave the album a B- grade writing:

Popophiles Difford and Tilbrook don't settle for have-fun fall-in-love fear-girls. They pen short stories worthy of early Rupert Holmes, and with a beat (alternate title: Herkyjerky). 'Tis said McCartneyesque tunefulness is the ticket here, but to me Tilbrook sounds more like Ray Davies after est--at peace with himself and out for big bucks, pounds being a foregone conclusion.

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