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This may be their first album under this guise, but Fitzsimon and Brogan go back a bit further than that. Both were members of the band Pretty Blue Gun who were signed to a Sony offshoot and got to work with some highly acclaimed musicians. After two albums and plenty of shows the band split, leaving Neil Fitzsimon (the main songwriter) and Bee Brogan (vocals) to work as a duo. Showing they capable of diversifying, the pair have already written a musical which has been seen on London stages. So looking at the evidence (musical, major label band and musicians who are very much part of the establishment collaborating with their previous band), you might not expect 'His Latest Squeeze' to be up your street.
Chances are that after a couple of spins you'll disagree. This pair have a very distinctive sound, something which is unusual considering they're basically a regular guitar band, and that takes a little getting used to, but it's also the making of them. We all know there are countless bands out there who sound very much the same as each other, so this is a nice change. Plus, the songs here are very good. They don't sound like they'd fit a musical (because they weren't written for one) and they don't sound like over-cooked major label fodder for the most part. Another point of praise for this album is the diversity which doesn't come at the expense of any kind of cohesion. Largely, 'His Latest Squeeze' would be described as an "indie" album, albeit one that ducks from cliches of the genre.
There are some big songs here, and if they don't strike you at first then bear with them. Repeat plays really bring out some magic. There are points where the sounds of the majors can be heard, but it's releases from the past. The title-track actually sounds a bit like Roxette, and, we kid you not, this is a good thing. If this had been twenty years ago, then the major label suits would be clamouring to get 'Stories Of Ice And Fire' out as a single. It's got "hit" written all over it and is genuinely a very good indie song with a corker of a chorus; the quirky 'The Cutest And The Cruelest' also has single potential, but again it's from a time now passed. It might be starting to sound like this would be a classic indie album had it been released in 1990, and to a point that's true. 'Sacred Heart' helps this cause. But the quality of songs transcends time; they're good whenever they're released.
A few jaunty guitar-pop songs are thrown in for accessibility (but don't lower the quality) such as single 'Anywhere But Here', 'Strawberry Spring' (which is something akin to The Bluetones covering, well, Roxette) and 'My Favourite Year'. Even lesser songs maintain a high standard. 'You Can Kill Me' won't be the one that sticks in the mind most, but it's still a damn fine tune. 'The Reluctant Gift', 'That Random Girl' and 'King For A Day' fall under the same banner and as they follow each other it does lead to a slight dip in the album as a whole. Final track 'Book Of Days' is another great tune and is the final piece that cements 'His Latest Squeeze' as a highly accomplished album which features some wonderful writing and probably doesn't sound anything like as much as Roxette as I've made out...
Fitzsimon and Brogan's website
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