Today’s Sounds: Suede

After over a decade of disappointment, the new Suede record is shockingly good, PLUS a track by Jessie Ware and a video by Captain Murphy (aka Flying Lotus).


Suede, Bloodsports (Columbia)

When the band that changed your life releases a terrible album, it’s just a bad scene. Disappointment is too polite a word for how I felt just over a decade ago when I heard A New Morning by Suede. There were no truly memorable tunes, the lyrics had degenerated to head-in-your-hands awful, and it seemed like life had left them. To no one’s surprise, they broke up.

Just under a decade prior to that, Suede was my favourite band. I loved their music first, but they were also my teenage crush, my one and only fanclub membership, a band that I formed friends over, met my first boyfriend by (he was the spitting image of their original guitarist) and inspired my gang to form a (very short-lived) band. I can also credit them with exposing me to the scene that became Britpop, and to the British music press — basically, my choice of career can be traced back to these five or six British guys.

A New Morning kind of killed me (as did having to write about it), but there had been something of a slow fizzle. The previous album, Headmusic, wasn’t fabulous, and even its predecessor — probably their best known, most commercially successful record, Coming Up —couldn’t compete with their eponymous debut, its follow-up Dog Man Star and all the non-LP singles and B-sides they released during that period (collected on the excellent Sci-fi Lullabies).

Since then, singer Brett Anderson released a couple of solo records and he and founding guitarist Bernard Butler reunited as the Tears. It was all okay, but not stellar. Disappointment lingered.

When I caught wind of Suede’s reunion, I was excited about the idea of seeing them play the old tunes. I didn’t expect a new record. And I definitely didn’t expect it to be good.

Nothing’s ever going to match the old stuff for me, but Bloodsports is impressive. The record comes on really strong with its first three tunes. “Barriers” has the barrelling propulsion of an Arcade Fire (or even U2) song; “Snowblind” pairs anthemic highs and minor-chord lows beautifully and “It Starts and Ends With You,” despite a lyrical misstep and kind of blah verses, has a chorus so ridiculously catchy…I don’t even know what to say. Even pop stars with teams of writers and lab-tested formulas don’t produce stuff this tight anymore.

Co-written by Suede’s second guitarist Richard Oakes (the first musician I ever interviewed, when we were both 17), the record bears echoes of the older material he contributed to (Coming Up especially), but it also ventures into territory more reminiscent of the noir ballads and smoky sleaze-rock of Suede’s first two records — Ed Buller, who produced those LPs and Coming Up, returns sounding bigger, more blown-out than you’d expect. “Sabotage” and “What Are You Not Telling Me” are the best examples of the band retracing their steps to their early days, especially the latter, a devastating, elegant piece of lovelorn poetry with matching musical grace. Anderson totally recaptures his former glory as a lyricist here, and age has clearly sharpened his outlook on love and romance.

Keeping the tracklist at a lean 10 was a wise move, as even the album’s most mediocre track, “For the Strangers” isn’t bad. Just a couple of weeks after the surprise punch of that Bowie record, this knocks me out.



Jessie Ware, “Imagine It Was Us”


Hey everybody, it’s a song by British pop singer Jessie Ware, from her 2012 album Devotion, finally coming out in North America on April 16 on Interscope.




Captain Murphy, “The Killing Joke”


Captain Murphy, aka Flying Lotus, goes dark in this depiction of a track from the DUΔLITY mixtape.


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