It’s everything you wanted from this reunion and more
It’s everything you wanted from this reunion and more
I was excited. I was worried. I wanted this to be good. No, I wanted this to be fantastic. Ever since the making of (the outstanding) Dog Man Star blew the original Suede line up apart, the idea of Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler kissing and making up enough to go back into the studio to record together always seemed like a fascinating idea, but realistically more than a little far fetched. A reunion looked less than likely. Lets face it, there wasn’t much love and mutual respect left at the end of that relationship. Of course I, amongst many others, have wanted to see it happen. For someone like me, Brett and Bernard becoming a double act again is as ground breaking as Morrissey and Marr teaming up again or the Stone Roses reforming or even, well, I would have said Pink Floyd reforming, but Bob Geldof took that one away from me. You know what I mean anyway. It would be like Richey returning to the Manic Street Preachers, fanciful I know, but we’re rock and roll fans after all. We like to dream. We like to think the world is a better place than it is. We want to believe that all you need is love, (or a quick shag in the backseat of a Vauxhall Cortina), we want to believe that going out on a Saturday night and getting bladdered is the be all and end all. Hell, we want to believe that four chords can change the world (see Live 8 for example).
Yes, I might be a dreamer, but sometimes dreams come true. Just like all those crappy movies tell you. It’s what we wish for. I’ve wanted this reunion to happen so much that I almost did back flips when I first heard about The Tears. Of course, being somewhat older and slightly wiser than I was when they split up, my excitement didn’t get out of hand and it wasn’t due to the fact that I’m far too fat and unfit to do back flips. My excitement was dampened by one single, nagging thought. "What if they’re shit?"
It simply didn’t bear thinking about.
When the album arrived at the shed door I grabbed it enthusiastically with both hands and told my fellow friends and colleagues to, "Fuck right off. I’m reviewing this one!" This was personal. I had to hear this. I looked at the cover. Glossy, shiny, very Suede like (as in the band). So far so good. I flicked through the booklet. Ponsey photos of Brett, Bernard and the rest looking moody and thoughtful; again, so far so good, but it was then time for the real test. I couldn’t listen to this in the shed. I needed some time alone. I couldn’t handle listening to this with the gang and having them see my reaction. If this was going to be shit I needed some time to come to terms with it. So I slurped down the last of my cuppa, said goodbye to the gang, put on my headphones and pressed play on the walkman, repeating a mantra over and over in my head, "Please don’t be shit. Please don’t be shit. Please don’t be shit."
I needn’t have worried. This album is an absolute blinder, camp, cocky and ridiculously entertaining from start to finish. Refugees kicks things off well, even though it begins with a drum beat that sounds very similar to the way the old Austin Allegro my Dad used to have when I was a lad used to cough, splutter and bark before it would start properly. But once the guitars sweep in and Brett starts singing you’ll be smiling from ear to ear. It takes the poppiness of everything Brett did with Suede from Coming Up onwards and marries it to that wonderful orchestral, wall of sound production that Bernard developed with David McAlmont. Autograph sounds like the Smiths. It really does remind me of some of Morrissey and Marr’s best work, it has that same arrogance, that same laid back style, but it’s good enough to stand tall and proud in that company and there aren’t many bands that you can say that about. Butler’s guitar work is incendiary (as it is throughout this album) and Brett is in fine voice. It’s a special song. Co- Star is a song for young idealistic lovers (you know the type, they sit in bedrooms dreaming about wandering the Earth and living life without any attachments; they’re normally middle class art students) and should be the soundtrack to many a bedroom fumble this year. It also contains the world’s best pronunciation of the word "insanity" so you must check it out.
Imperfection is for anybody who’s found that special someone and The Ghost Of You is required listening for anybody who’s just been dumped by that special someone. There’ll be many a broken heart clinging to this song, I can tell you. Two Creatures is another song for those art student lovers who want to travel the world and live a carefree life. It’s wonderful. The guitar intro is the sound of summer encapsulated and the lyrics are all about running away from it all and having fun. "And we’ll go where the crowds don’t stare / and no one laughs at what we wear / The phone might ring, the rain might sting, oh but we don’t care." It’s an art student’s personal mantra. (I know because I used to be one.) You’ll love it wholeheartedly.
It was at this point, whilst wandering around town enjoying that first listen, that I decided to pop into the supermarket. We were low on milk and biscuits in the shed you see so I thought I’d pick up some supplies and head back, ready to tell everybody that the new Tears album wasn’t shit. Then Lovers came on and I lost my mind completely.
You know that feeling you get when you’re at a gig and one of your favourite songs is played? I don’t just mean any old song, I mean one of those songs that you just can’t believe how lucky you are to be seeing and hearing the band play live. Do you know that feeling? When you hear one of those songs that just lifts your spirits to an unnatural level and makes you feel better than you’ve felt all day and the only way you can voice your approval is by screaming the word "Yeah!" as loud as you can? And I don’t just mean "Yeah," I mean, "YEEEEEAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!" The type of scream that makes you lose your voice entirely. Have you ever felt it? You must have. I get that feeling every time I hear the Manics sing Roses In The Hospital and every time Supergrass play Caught By The Fuzz. I got that feeling after seeing Suede play The Wild Ones. I got that same feeling when I saw Neil Young play Powderfinger and I got that feeling when I first heard Lovers. I completely forgot about where I was and what I was doing which was, you’ll remember, shopping for milk and biscuits in a supermarket. The song just got to me and as soon as it finished I let out one of those almighty "YEEEEEAAAAAHHHHH’s" which was loud and unexpected enough to scare the old woman in front of me half to death and send the poor young lad standing next to her careering backwards into the biscuit stand, sending packets of Rich Tea and BiscTwix cascading to the floor. Well I had to apologise to them (as well as pick up some of the biscuits) but I also had to press rewind. In the end, I must have listened to the song about 7 or 8 times in a row. I totally, absolutely, completely adore this song.
I know it sounds like I’m over egging the pudding somewhat but I truly, truly adore this song. It’s the type of song that can make you want to strut down the street, it’ll make you think that you’re cool. It makes you feel like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. You may look like a complete and utter tit, but you’ll feel fantastic. It is a perfect, perfect pop song and it makes me want to be a student again. Why? Because I don’t think this song will sound any better than when you’re on the dance floor, boozed up on double vodkas and cheap lager, looking for someone to snog. You want to know how good this song is? Do you know what it’s like when you get chatting to some girl (or guy) you like in a bar and, if things are going well, eventually, you’ll get to that point where you know you’ve got to make the first move? So you grab hold of them, pull them close and look into their eyes. You’re waiting for permission to kiss them. You think you might get it, but you’re chancing your arm. You’ve still got that feeling that it may all blow up in your face and you’ll look like a complete arse, but there’s that moment, that crucial moment where you look into their eyes and the adrenalin kicks in, your nerves are in bits and it gives you such a rush that you really don’t know how to feel. Once you kiss them, you relax a bit and start to get horny, but that moment before you kiss them is fantastic. Well this song is that good. Trust me.
Unfortunately, because it’s that good, you may not be able to recover for a while. That’s why I ended up listening to the song about 8 times in a row. No matter how good Fallen Idol is, and it is very good, it’s nowhere near as exciting as Lovers. That’s why I’ve written so much on it!
As for the rest of the album, Brave New Century is the song that sounds most like Suede. It has a great swagger to it and its guitars sound dirty and unclean, just the way Suede fans like them. Beautiful Pain is made from the same ingredients whilst The Asylum is destined for lighter waving, crowd hugging festival moments. Apollo 13 overreaches in almost every department, but its still fantastic. Brett fits back into his old, "I sound like David Bowie" mode whilst Bernard and Co. build up a tune that starts small but turns into something of real power, strength and emotion. By the time it gets to the end Brett’s voice is surrounded by a wall of sound big and loud enough to send Phil Spector into depression and the squealing guitars at the end just push it over the edge. It’s amazing and if they can pull this off live it’ll blow your head off. A Love As Strong As Death rounds things off in a more somber, relaxed mood. It’s a beautiful little tune, built around a haunting piano part, but you know as well as I do that as soon as it finishes you’ll be rewinding to track 7, just to listen to Lovers again.
For that reason alone, you should buy this album. It’s everything you wanted from this reunion and more and the best thing is, if they manage to keep their working relationship on track this time, there’s a chance that they could get even better. This album proves that dreams can come true. How much more of a recommendation do you need?
Words : Damian Leslie