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Suede - The Blue Hour (Album Review)

Monday, 01 October 2018 Written by Graeme Marsh

With the release of 2016’s ‘Night Thoughts’, the second album following their reformation six years earlier, Suede managed to transcend the limitations of an album and create something bigger.

Accompanied by a film, it was like a whole new medium had been invented that seemingly bridged the gap between the audio and visual. The music was also revelatory in isolation – nothing as simplistic as a soundtrack, but something sweeping and cinematic pressed to four sides of vinyl.

‘The Blue Hour’ completes the band’s trilogy of post-reunion releases and continues the album-cum-movie experience. They recently explained that they wanted to create something to appeal to those who “want to be taken to a world for 45 minutes”.

It’s an attempt to banish the idea of creating a patchwork of tracks suitable for a playlist, instead returning listeners to a rewarding piece of work that needs to be appreciated in full.

From the eerie, ominous opening track As One it’s obvious that there’s a harrowing event unfolding here. A great riff sits alongside prominent strings, which becomes a theme for the collection, and a story begins. Later on you’ll hear frontman Brett Anderson’s young son in conversation with his father as they dig to find a dead bird, but whether or not this is simply an indicator of more sinister things afoot only the listener can decide.

‘The Blue Hour’ is a slate of songs that gel together as one, but if dissection is your thing there are a few tracks that work as standalone numbers. Wastelands is a mesmerising spy thriller of a song with a rip-roaring chorus, while further epic hooks power the excellent Life is Golden and Don’t be Afraid if Nobody Loves You. Suede’s ability to deliver huge songs is in no danger of drying up.

Back within the Gothic theme, though, there are plenty of moments that simply need to be enjoyed as part of the whole. Gorgeous strings dominate the sublime The Invisibles and Interpol-like guitar picking drives another mini-mystery in Tides. The catchy Cold Hands manages to dangle a foot in the direction of Suede’s past, yet it also fits seamlessly into its surroundings. After a slow start, another torch-wielding anthem unfolds on closer Flytipping.

Alan Moulder has stepped into the production seat instead of Suede’s long-term collaborator Ed Buller, and the evidence suggests this has helped invigorate the band. ‘Night Thoughts’ was magnificent and probably still sits slightly ahead of its new companion, but there’s barely anything in it. For a band that’s approaching 30 years old, this is as remarkable an achievement as you’re likely to encounter.

Suede Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri October 12 2018 - LONDON Eventim Apollo
Sat October 13 2018 - LONDON Eventim Apollo
Sun October 14 2018 - DUBLIN Bord Gais Energy Theatre

Click here to compare & buy Suede Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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