Record Label: Suede Ltd.
Deprivation, shagging and euphoria; it's all in abundance on Suede's mighty return
Whether it was conscious on the bands' behalf or not, it's quite easy to fit each of the Britpop giants with a certain image. Oasis were the football lads, knecking Carling and Strongbow and chanting Beatles lyrics from rooftops in fluorescent raincoats. Blur were the private school boys who would nip to the toilets at lunch to snort coke. Suede were the gutter rats; shagging people they shouldn't be shagging, injecting copious amounts of heroin and wandering the streets trying to maintain the image of the stately, foppish low- life romantic.
"Bloodsports" is Suede's first album in 10 years and the follow up to the poorly received "Head Music." The thing with "Bloodsports" is that in many ways it's a classic Suede album, all deprivation, shagging and heartbreak in abundance. The thing that really matters however is that it contains some of the best songs they've ever written.
The songs here follow the same structure as always, but they're turned up to 11 and dragged into expansive, resounding epics. The rhythm section drives and rumbles behind glammy, slightly twangy and ambidextrous riffing, before synths explode over the top in what feels like a very natural progression. It's the formula that turns opener "Barriers" and one of the rare moments of positivity here, "Hit Me", into hook- laden powerhouses. Best of all is "It Starts and Ends With You", simple in its 4 minute trajectory but easily the most heart- burstingly large moment here, akin to earlier classics "Metal Mickey" and "Animal Nitrate" in magnitude.
It's a structure that also allows the band to delve into the darker recesses of their minds, and it's here that Brett Anderson's lyrics become most prolific. On "Snowblind" he speaks of a deeply regrettable one night stand, emphasising the awkwardness of the situation the following morning as he sings "we find our keys on the kitchen table, and forget what's done." "Sabotage" finds Anderson almost suicidal after the supposed loss of love, imploring us with dark, medieval imagery towards the end as he sings "I climb to the scaffold, smiling, my hands on the cross." "What Are You Not Telling Me?" is perhaps the most sobering moment, a cold, drumless shimmer in which Anderson exposes the process of ending a relationship falling apart.
It's not all as emotionally evocative, or as deeply moving, but Suede's greatest trait was never consistency. It was their ability to amplify the darkest of human emotions into sweltering anthems that act as poetic rhetoric of the human condition more than anything else. And there are plenty of those on "Bloodsports."
Key Tracks: "It Starts and Ends With You", "Sabotage", "What Are You Not Telling Me?"
For fans of: David Bowie, Pulp