Album #10: Suede – Bloodsports

  • Released: 2013
  • Origin: London, England
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • Best Track: It Starts and Ends With You

An unfortunate byproduct of this project is I’m going to have to out myself as a newbie to several albums you’d think I’d have heard. In the first half of the 2010s, my interest in music was going through a bit of a drought. It perked up around 2015, so since then I’ve caught up with Suede’s 2016 album Night Thoughts and 2018’s The Blue Hour, but this one has eluded me thus far. You could say I’m familiar with their ‘beenback’, but missed their comeback.

I always think Suede were arguably the best band of the Britpop era. Some Oasis, Blur and even early Pulp material hasn’t stood the test of time too well, but Suede never sound at all dated to me, and 1994’s Dog Man Star is the first album I would suggest to anyone trying to get into the genre.

Bloodsports, the Londoners’ sixth album in total, was the band’s first since reforming in 2010. Released 11 years on from A New Morning, it was an opportunity to bring their sound into a new and very different era of music.

It was widely seen as a triumphant return, and having now heard it, I can see why. Right from the opening track ‘Barriers’, this is quintessentially Suede. In fact, this album’s first three tracks are as strong as anything they’ve ever done.

Brent Anderson’s voice has always been a magical one that really makes you feel something beyond simple aural pleasure. Hurt, yearning and powerful, he doesn’t quite tackle the high notes as he did on ’90s songs like ‘Black or Blue’ and ‘Picnic By the Motorway’, but he continues to deliver those wholehearted choruses that just knock you out, most notably on the fantastic ‘It Starts and Ends With You’.

It sounds miserable if I say that’s the high point of the album. It’s good throughout, but those first three tracks really are excellent – so good that anything after them is a bonus. The mesmeric ‘Sometimes I Feel I’ll Float Away’ is the closest I’ve ever heard the band come to shoegaze/dream pop (though Anderson’s forceful vocals take it away from the genre) and Faultlines is a classic Suede closer, narrative and somehow mournful, despite its cries of ‘celebrate’.

Suede don’t really try to do anything too different here, which underlines the fact that their music has never really needed to be brought up to date.

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