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Chart Chat Album Review : ‘Bloodsports – Suede’ (18.03.13)

Album Review : Bloodsports – Suede (Monday 18th March)
Hard to believe that it is twenty years since Suede topped the charts with their self titled debut album.  It spawned the classic singles ‘The Drowners’, ‘Metal Mickey’, ‘Animal Nitrate’ and ‘So Young’ before the standalone single ‘Stay Together’ became the first of two top three singles. Although the follow up ‘Dog Man Star’ missed out on pole position subsequent albums ‘Coming Up’ and ‘Head Music’ went on to reach no.1 before the group bowed out with a whimper as their 2002 release ‘A New Morning’ peaked at just no.24. Soon after the band disbanded, Brett Anderson forged a solo career and the chapter of music history on Suede appeared to be closed.
Fast forward to 2010 and the band reformed for a one off reunion to play as part of the Teenage Cancer Trust shows. However a short series of concerts followed in 2011 along with a new remastered ‘Best Of’ compilation also being released. Their full series of studio albums were reissued with newly unheard demos and the band played a series of concerts in London and Dublin where the first three albums were played in order of tracklisting, one each on three consecutive nights.  Although the band were reluctant to talk about new material some new songs were tested at the end of 2011 during gigs in Russia.  However of those only ‘Sabotage’ became a contender for their new album.
And so here were are with ‘Bloodsports’, a brand new studio album from Suede. Fans will be familiar with opening track ‘Barriers’ which was released as a free download from the bands website prior to the album completed, but it’s the second track ‘Snowblind’ which raises the stakes and retains the Suede sound but freshened up for 2013. “This love has lifted her / this love has lifted you for one snowblind moment too” sings Brett with gusto and straight away the song could sit with pride alongside any of the songs from their earlier albums. 
‘It Starts And Ends With You’ is a single of sorts as it comes with a video and there are rumours of a 7″ vinyl release and it’s classic Suede without perhaps getting quite to the top gears that we know they can. We have already covered ‘Sabotage’ as being a track played live at the end of 2011 but it merits its place here. 
‘For The Strangers’ is in a class of it’s own, so beautiful and anthemic. “Lips like semaphore to my heart / we slither and slip and slide / stings like aerosol in my eyes / but nothing compares to this” is a phenomenal opening verse in anyone’s book and this takes things to a new level. This would be number one for weeks if there were any justice, but for now this is set to be a live classic and sure fans favourite.  It leads nicely into ‘Hit Me’ which comes packed with driving drums and urgent guitars and would make another possible choice for a single.
‘Sometimes I Feel I’ll Float Away’ begins slowly and tenderly but soon notches up a gear with Richard Oakes guitar taking the lead.  Anderson is on top lyrical form once more with “and I count to ten as the race begins round your hairpin bends”.  ‘What Are You Not Telling Me’ is a tender ballad but it hits the spot, and we know from their glorious past just how beautiful these songs can be, and how they are a key ingredient of the Suede sound.
Penultimate tune ‘Always’ has a haunting quality to it, with again some lyrical magic in “like a sniper in the wings / like the endless chattering / like the rope that twists in your hand / and its starting again” while ‘Faultlines’ brings the album to a close in style.  It almost sounds like the kind of song which could have easily developed into an eight minute epic as the piano’s twist and interact with Anderson’s vocals and Oakes guitars.  However to the credit of producer Ed Buller it is kept in check at four minutes, with no song on the album running past five minutes.
I want to call this a triumphant return, but that sounds too much like a cliche. When originally questioned in 2010 if the reformed band would record new material Anderson responded by saying that “unless we were all convinced it would be an amazing record, I think we’d rather just leave it alone”. Thankfully being able to write and record without release date pressures has allowed them to construct an album which will not only augment but will enhance their legacy. 
Total awarded : 9

17 March, 2013 - Posted by | ChartChat

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