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Suede - Autofiction (Album Review)

Thursday, 22 September 2022 Written by Graeme Marsh

Photo: Dean Chalkley

Somewhat surprisingly, it’s already been 12 years since Suede reformed. As unlikely as a reunion once seemed, it was perhaps even less likely that their comeback after a seven year absence would yield four sumptuous albums that increasingly moved into cinematic storytelling.

‘Autofiction’ is the band’s ninth studio album and seventh with producer Ed Buller, but it stands as a late-career curveball. Instead of continuing down the path they had collectively been heading along, it’s a punky about turn that sees them veering towards the grit and glam of their early days.

Here, guitarist Richard Oakes has pushed aside the Bernard Butler template associated with their breakthrough albums to stamp his own mark on a record, resulting in something excitingly fresh but inescapably Suede.

Largely written around or during lockdown, the album opens with lead single She Still Leads Me On, choking into life before Maxïmo Park-like guitars provide vibrant energy. It’s addictive, compelling and right up there with their very best.

A glorious wall of guitars also envelopes Personality Disorder, with a nagging riff carrying the track, while 15 Again is a driving six string workout until a soaring chorus heads for the clouds.

Vocalist Brett Anderson has recently spoken about being inspired to write about family—with the opener being about his late mother—but the Stooges-style shoutalong That Boy On The Stage sees him studying his own persona: “In someone else's clothes, who cares where he is from?” At opposite ends of the spectrum, the glorious What Am I Without You? spends six minutes performing a love song to the audience, its skeletal piano line developing into a sweeping anthem, while Black Ice clocks in at under three minutes and lands blows of similar power thanks to brilliant bass and guitar interplay.

There are still orchestral touches that produce moments of cinematic grandiosity throughout ‘Autofiction’ but there is far less reliance on that aspect of Suede’s sound than on recent offerings. This is very much an album that thrives on majestic guitars, straddling both early and latter-day iterations of the band in the process. The blistering ambition of here not only defies logic for a band formed more than 30 years ago, but also sets a standard so high that others will find it hard to follow.

Suede Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed October 05 2022 - LONDON Electric Ballroom
Thu October 06 2022 - LONDON Electric Ballroom
Fri March 03 2023 - BATH Bath Forum
Sat March 04 2023 - NORWICH Nick Rayns LCR
Mon March 06 2023 - GUILDFORD G Live
Tue March 07 2023 - CAMBRIDGE Corn Exchange
Thu March 09 2023 - MANCHESTER Albert Hall
Fri March 10 2023 - NOTTINGHAM Rock City
Sat March 11 2023 - SHEFFIELD O2 Academy Sheffield
Mon March 13 2023 - ABERDEEN Aberdeen Music Hall
Tue March 14 2023 - GLASGOW O2 Academy Glasgow
Wed March 15 2023 - YORK York Barbican
Fri March 17 2023 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE O2 City Hall
Sat March 18 2023 - LIVERPOOL Philharmonic Hall
Mon March 20 2023 - BRIGHTON Brighton Dome
Tue March 21 2023 - BIRMINGHAM Symphony Hall
Wed March 22 2023 - CARDIFF St David's Hall
Fri March 24 2023 - SOUTHAMPTON O2 Guildhall Southampton
Sat March 25 2023 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton
Sun March 26 2023 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton

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