Suede – Bloodsports
Coming more than a decade after their career destroying fifth album A New Morning, and having to compete for attention with a certain other ‘comeback’ album – the question on cynical lips when Bloodsports was announced was ‘do we really need another Suede album?’
While it’s an easy judgement to make, it’s a bit unfair to lump all of the reforming 90’s band together and dismiss them as last-hurrah chancers – and with Bloodsports Suede completely blow the rest away with arguably their best album since Dog Man Star.
They were obviously keen to hit the ground running with Bloodsports, jamming the opening half of it with the kind of soaring and emotive pop songs only Suede at their best can pull off. ‘Barriers’ has the slow building drama of early U2, ‘Snowblind’ features a swaggering and angular riff from Richard Oakes, ‘It Starts An Ends With You’ is just a brilliantly simple and energetic pop song, ‘Sabotage’ gracefully flows on another great lead guitar line from Oakes and ‘For The Strangers’ harks back to the best bits from their last good album Coming Up.
The pick of this relentless burst of brilliant pop songs though is ‘Hit Me’. A song so rousing it can get away with the lyric “Come on and hit me with your majesty”. The big factor in that lyric working, and all of these songs sounding so great is Brett Anderson. The singer sounds so good on Bloodsports that suggesting it as a ‘return to form’ doesn’t really do him justice – it would probably be more accurate to suggest he’s in the form of his life.
On the albums first ballad, and overall highlight, ‘Sometimes I Feel I’ll Float Away’ Anderson is in complete control – pulling the track from gentle and atmospheric beginnings into a huge and highly charged chorus. Coupled with another great guitar line from Oakes, this time echoing OK Computer-era Radiohead (I kid you not) – the result is truly majestic.
The hit ratio dips slightly towards the end of Bloodsports. ‘What Are You Not Telling Me?’ is an effective, if not totally convincing, mournful ballad and ‘Always’ feels like it is straining too hard to be enigmatic and interesting. It’s decent though, and leads nicely into the cinematic album closer ‘Faultlines’.
For an album by a band supposedly past their prime, Bloodsports is far better than it has any right to be. With a huge show at Alexandra Palace at the end of this month and presumably a lot of festival slots over the summer, 2013 could well see the second coming of Suede – whether we need it or not!