Suede are back to their '90s peak with smart, sexy album
Album Review: Bloodsports (Suede Ltd) ****
One would be forgiven for not being too excited by the prospect of a new Suede album.
Their final offerings before splitting were poor facsimiles of their early 1990s work, while subsequent solo albums from frontman Brett Anderson were decidedly patchy.
Even a reunion album from Anderson and Suede's original guitarist, Bernard Butler, failed to live up to the sum of its parts.
Listen to this first Suede album in 11 years, however, and it soon becomes apparent that Anderson and friends have rediscovered some of the form that made them – for a few fleeting years – the most exciting British band of their generation.
Right from the off, the quintet displays a sense of urgency and vigour that had been so sorely missed in the latter stages of their first coming. Opener Barriers is all purposeful guitars and fore-grounded bass, while 45-year-old Anderson sounds utterly invigorated – his vocals at once distinct and arresting.
There's a leanness to the material that is redolent of their self-titled debut album, released 20 years ago to the month, and at 10 tracks and 39-odd minutes, the band has wisely curbed the extraneous bells and whistles that has tarnished even some of their better songs.
Richard Oakes's guitar is at the centre of everything. There are Butleresque riffs here and there but there's a virtuosity present that reminds the listener that this quietly spoken Londoner is a figure to be reckoned with.
It's worth remembering that he was just 19 when first drafted into Suede on Butler's departure.
But it's Anderson and his carnal obsessions that stay with you longest: truly, few of his peers have written as candidly about sex as he has and these songs find him documenting sex that's good, bad, dangerous and dirty – and you'll hang on to his every word.
KEY TRACKS Barriers; It Starts and Ends With You