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Suede - Bloodsports (Album Review)

Sunday, 17 March 2013 Written by Graeme Marsh
Suede - Bloodsports (Album Review)

It’s been 11 years since the music world was last treated to a studio album from 1993 Mercury Prize winning indie band Suede, led by the enigmatic Brett Anderson – and considerably longer since the band were heralded by the music press as The Best New Band in Britain (1992).

ImageAnderson himself has recorded 4 solo albums during this time, as well as a 2004 collaboration with ex-Suede guitarist Bernard Butler in the shape of The Tears but nothing has ever reached the huge peaks of the bands major successes, with popular opinion stating these as the first 3 albums – the eponymous debut, the much admired 'Dog Man Star' and the first non-Butler offering 'Coming Up', which proved to be the bands greatest commercial moment.

March 18th will see the release of 6th studio album 'Bloodsports', a 10-track recording produced by Ed Buller – the very same man responsible for assisting the band with the aforementioned masterpieces.

45 year-old Anderson is joined by Richard Oakes (guitar), Neil Codling (keyboards), Mat Osman (bass) and Simon Gilbert (drums), thus recreating the past in its entirety bar Butler. Purists will no doubt approach the new album with much hesitation and doubt, many pointing to the fact that Suede have never been, in their eyes at least, the same since Butler was sacked; also throw into the ring the critically panned 'A New Morning' and there is genuine reason for these doubts. Anderson, however, has declared that the end result sounds like a cross between 'Dog Man Star' and 'Coming Up' and is about ‘lust, the chase and the endless carnal game of love’ and was the most satisfying album the band have made... whether or not it will live up to all of this needs to be examined in detail...

'Barriers' fires the opening salvo, fans will already know this track as it was released as a free download in January 2013 – not as a single, but more of a bold statement by the band being a declaration of the quality of their new material more than anything else. The song itself is an enjoyable and promising start, Anderson’s fancy lyrics immediately being identifiable, and accompanied by classic guitaring, culminating in a football terrace-like chanting that recalls Simple Minds.

Second track 'Snowblind' contains a great guitar riff on which the song is built solidly before bursting into a strong, soaring almost anthemic chorus, returning once again to the distinctive riff. This is a real gem and a likely single that wouldn’t have looked out of place on much earlier albums.

First single to be lifted from the album is next, 'It Starts And Ends With You'; another good track, maybe not as strong as the previous contender but undeniably Suede with some more decent if not so memorable guitaring and a chorus to match.

The pace dies down with 'Sabotage' but the quality is not diminished at all, a slower almost ballad-like offering with some slightly more prevalent drumming and guitaring once again culminating in an upliftingly soaring chorus.

'For The Strangers' is blessed with more of the same although lacking somewhat in respect of a strong chorus and memorable moments; it’s at this point during playback that you realise you have a really good album in your hands but a reality check is necessary – after such a lengthy absence from the music scene (as a group) it is unfair to expect this album to challenge the likes of the first 3 albums in terms of lastibility and originality, but if you’re a die-hard Suede fan that accepts times have changed you are unlikely to be disappointed.

Probably the best track on the album follows, 'Hit Me', with another soaring chorus and fuzzy guitar accompaniment, another glaringly obvious single and perhaps the one song that could attract most interest to the album as a whole and even bring in some new fans.

With the pace slowing right down for 'Sometimes I Feel I’ll Float Away', the listener is then taken on another floating above the clouds type chorus, this time the track including a small organ part but a less appealing mid-section guitar riff as maybe the quality of the album starts to dip a little and slink off to a comfortable and quiet ending – the track order even reflecting the story of life somewhat with Almost following an even slower path.

The album closer 'Faultlines' opens with synths and a threadbare echo and delay guitar line, atmospherically dragging you towards the end of the album with Anderson crying ‘I will always be near’...as if it really is a goodbye to the world before stating the drama of the moment in a harrowing and powerful finale – a perfect choice for the final moments.

All in all this is a rather decent and perhaps unexpected offering from one of indie pops finest contributors; however, at only 40 minutes long it is over all too quickly. You will not find another 'Dog Man Star' or similar here but you will find an album that contains a few great moments worthy of a place in a Suede Greatest Hits package, complemented by many other largely above average album tracks.

'Bloodsports' is released on Monday 18th March on Warner Music UK. Suede are set to play a one off show at London’s Alexandra Palace on Saturday March 30th, with a warm-up show in Nottingham on March 28th. You can also catch Suede at this year's Belsonic Festival in Belfast.

Suede UK & Ireland Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu March 28th 2013 - Rock City, Nottingham
Sat March 30th 2013 - Alexandra Palace, London

Click Here to Compare & Buy Suede Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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