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Picks and Pans Review: Hear & Now

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Billy Squier

Squier, a sturdy if not quite spectacular rocker, returns after three years with a fiery but undistinguished collection. He does score on the simple chugga-chugga bangers “Don’t Say You Love Me” and “Tied Up.” (The latter succeeds despite the fact that it’s a clone of the rock chest-nut “I Hear You Knockin’ “).

But too many songs are merely perfunctory, like lesser Bryan Adams compositions. As always, Squier’s heart and ear are in the right place. The guitars snarl like a wolf pack and the drums tattoo your head. His vocal delivery at its best—as on “Stronger”—sounds like a hoarse Paul McCartney, but there are alarming moments on this record when Squier’s voice recalls some of the shocking-pink-lipstick luridness of Queen’s Freddie Mercury. Squier is still one of the most distinctively attractive vocalists in rock. His pipes are the major reason his music sounds passionate even when, as on Hear & Now, the music is unexceptional. You can’t fault Squier’s effort, but you may not be crazy about the execution. (Capitol)