It’s never easy meeting expectations when embarking on a solo career after playing with a successful band. It’s a high bar to meet, much less exceed, especially when you lack the input of the others who contributed to that band’s winning formula. Granted, Glenn Tilbrook is a step ahead in that regard. As one of two singer/songwriters in the British pop band Squeeze (the other being Chris Difford, his erstwhile collaborator), Tilbrook was largely responsible for the band’s sugary sound and irrepressible effervescence. Up until now, Tilbrook’s solo output hasn’t quite meshed with expectations, relegating his albums to little more than footnotes in the band’s overall trajectory.
Hopefully, Happy Ending will live up to its billing, providing conclusive proof that Tilbrook still possesses that easy, affable pop sway that once made Squeeze so essential. If it lacks the overall immediacy, it’s only by degrees, with songs like “Ray,” “Rupert,” “Hello There” and “Bongo Bill” providing shimmer and sparkle. Tilbrook tampers with the rhythms, adding tabla to “Mud Island,” sprightly handclaps on “Everybody Sometimes” and what else but a bongo beat on “Bongo Bill.” Happy Ending provides a decidedly joyful noise that is surely capable of reminding listeners of his talents as a solo musician.