Squackett - A Life Within A Day
The prospect of two of prog's most enduring icons coming together has been enough to get fans of the genre whisked up into an almighty frenzy of anticipation (and scepticism). Both Steve Hackett and Chris Squire have travelled the breadth of the rock spectrum, from the sprawling epics of the 70s that defined Genesis and particularly Yes, right through to the glossy pop of the 80s (the less said the better on some of their output in that decade...), ending up in recent years as the stately gentlemen watching new generations emerge. So the big question was always going to be, where does Squackett fit into this?
A Life Within A Day is certainly a mixed bag, both across styles and successes. Remarkably, it doesn't really sound predominately like either's output, very much being the result of a true meeting of worlds. There are no fantastical tales stretching full album sides, instead the focus is very much on melody and killer hooks. Look no further than the title track and 'Sea Of Smiles' for intelligent pop songs par excellence, perfect blends of astonishing musicianship delivering masterful songwriting in a consummate, yet understated manner. This is certainly not a flashy display of musical self-indulgence.
But on the flipside there are the sort of songs like 'Aliens' and 'The Summer Backwards' which are insipid affairs, awash with horribly cheesy sentimentality and as much feeling and backbone as a dead slug. These dives back into the cheap synth-laden horrors of the 80s are exactly the sort of drivel the naysayers were warning A Life Within A Day would be. But defied they are, as Squackett almost without fail manage to produce a gem along the lines of 'Stormchaser' to banish the doubters back to their dark, miserable holes.