16/1/16 – Suede – Pale Snow / Like Kids / Outsiders – New Songs From Night Thoughts – 2016

Suede Colour Pic 2016Bowie has gone but his children remain as Suede preview new songs and videos in advance of their latest album, Night Thoughts released later this month. Pale Snow is a moody short interlude, a rather elegant tune with a rather meaningless visual, unless it means something in relation to the feature film (directed by Roger Sargent) that accompanies the album  – I except more on that later. But forgetting all the emphais on the videos and film and dress and the look, on a positive note, there’s something happening in the guitars radiating from Richard Oakes, a highlight on all the songs as if John McGeoch might have joined Killing Joke. It’s the most interesting development in the band, Oakes rising to the challenge of not Bernard Butler’s legacy but anyone’s –  in the future, trying to remember ten influential guitar players from nineties Indie bands might be hard?

Like Kids is a more up tempo affair but it gives me the uncomfortable feeling of old ideas revisited. It’s not bad but where has it gone, how have Suede developed, what has been achieved artistically, it’s not quite as exciting as that young fresh Suede that arrived in a tangle of sexual ambiguity amid the exploratory guitar of Bernard Butler. Yes it’s an assured and professional, bright production from Ed Buller who obviously knows his way around a quality backing track and is able to capture that vibrant tone that Suede have boasted from the start, but how does Brett Anderson fare in adding his thang to this melodic cacophony.

Well, we get his trademark angst and Pop yearning, comfort for a lost generation but he has to seduce us with his melodies. He set us up to expect an insight and a direction beyond the plod of Oasis and the British Frat boy image of Blur. But it’s all going a bit Psychedelic Furs – initially gritty, driving dark energy, lyrically strong with a great front man and life changing songs – and then nothing. When I hear the earlier singles I hear a dual non-chalance and message, a cockney Morrissey, fluttering across the airwaves penetrating the zeitgeist, irresistible, Anderson king of the moment but maybe praying to fall in love with a rich young actress he can love as much as Low might be too much hero worship and not enough diving into his own tortured soul.

As time has gone by, it’s been rather hit and miss for Suede, perfect when it hits, empty when it misses. Does Brett Anderson know why? Because I don’t think Richard Butler or Ian McCulloch have any idea even though the performance and the delivery might be brilliant nostalgia for the over forties. The third track here, Outside, presses all the right buttons but I want Anderson to be great, rising to his own challenge, it’s a responsibility – and I don’t want to see his navel anymore – I don’t want the image or the videos or the film, I want all the tricks that Bowie taught him to materialise in his music, reinvented. So how does he find that new ground? Radiohead completely reinvented themselves, when we know a new record is coming by them we wonder about it, when Echo And The Bunnymen or The Furs release a new album (two of my favourite groups of the late seventies into the eighties), we’re scared of hearing it. Suede shouldn’t attempt to be a slicker version of themselves because the earlier rawer version was better, that was their halcyon days. What we need now is ideas, inspiration – progress not production. I’m looking forward to hearing the new album as a whole with high expectations that they deliver what they have promised with hands on twisted hips and coy seduction of the camera. They must live up to their heroes artistic demands, it would be undignified not to do so.