Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Suede - Bloodsports

With a seemingly perpetual deluge of brit-pop copycats emerging, and then swiftly vanishing, in recent years it often feels like the movement (which by all accounts ended a long time ago) has truly run out of steam. Aside from the obligatory reunion gigs for brit-pop's big players (blur, pulp) and some more than questionable solo endeavors from Oasis, the aesthetic and manifesto hasn't successfully been revived, and arguably doesn't really need to be.

So where does the new album from 90s stalwarts and lovers of the dramatic Suede come into play? Can Suede, a band largely known for their work 20 years ago really be relevant at all with such a focus on newness in modern music? The answer, surprisingly is yes. 'Bloodsports', the first album since 1999's 'Head Music' is a resounding triumph and proof that sticking to the tried and tested Suede formula has worked without sounding horribly dated.

The album fulfills both the expectations Suede have laid out across their career, primarily the big bombastic pop songs and secondly a passion for the exuberant and the exaggeration of emotions, which they tackled so masterfully on the now seminal 'Dog Man Star'. 'Sabotage' is a prime example, with Brett Anderson's trade mark squeals echoing 'Our love is sabotage' in the sassy impassioned manner you'd expect from the formidable frontman. Listening to many of the songs on 'Bloodsports' conjures images of Brett flinging himself sweatily around a stage with his hair flopping wildly, just like he did so iconically 20 years ago.

The knack for writing a catchy song certainly hasn't faded either, opening track 'Barriers' is rousing, packing an explosive chorus that in a better world would be echoing around arenas to adoring singalongs in place of bands like Muse. 'It Starts And Ends With You' too, mirrors the primal ridiculousness of 90s hits 'Animal Nitrate' and 'Beautiful Ones' and takes its place amongst the most impressive of Suede's song cannon. It's an absolutely joyous track, with the ludicrous lyrics about hairline cracks in radiators and cogs without martyrs leading into an insanely catchy chorus. 'Hit Me' too reads religiously from the Suede blueprint with Anderson again springing into life with his impassioned yelps.

The moments of tenderness hit the spot too, 'What Are You Not Telling Me?' works magnificently as a pained emotive song about lies and deceit, and the addition of a string section on 'Faultlines' is nothing short of majestic. 'Bloodsports' certainly represents a return to form for Suede, and one that few were really expecting after a shoddy Anderson solo album and years of no new material. It may be a little too late for Suede to trouble the charts and really cause a stir again, but this album is evidence if needed that they're still on top of their game.


Toby McCarron

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