Suede - Bloodsports (2013)
Suede - Bloodsports on Suede Ltd
By Brian Chesman
Bloodsports does not have any right to be as good as it is. After all, it has been over ten years since we last heard from Suede, and their last album, New Morning, was the document of a band collapsing in on itself. In the years since their dissolution, they have not been cited as a key influence for the younger generations. Their updated glam rock, while engaging, sounded firmly rooted in the 90’s. Yet here we have a new Suede album in 2013, an album that could have been dismissed as a reunion cash-grab. Surprisingly, it is one of the best records Suede has ever released.
The success of Bloodsports lies in the tasteful balance of Brett Anderson’s matured lyrics and the way the band applies a more anthemic sound to their original template. Opening track, “Barriers,” comes chugging in, mixing their traditional Bowie-meets-the-Smiths sound with U2 at their arena-rock heights. The first half of the album is built on singalong rockers.
As far as the album’s place in the Suede pantheon, it veers closest to their sophomore effort Dog Man Star. After the initial run of rockers, Bloodsports slides into a series of slower ballads. While, on first listen this may seem to kill the momentum, on repeated listens you get a sense of a vague storyline. Optimistic songs about hope and love slowly give way to dark, melodramatic, sometimes even paranoid tunes like “What Are You Not Telling Me?” and album closer “Faultlines.”
Though this album was somewhat unexpected, Suede could not have picked a better time for its release. In the past 2 months we have seen new albums from David Bowie and Johnny Marr, a couple of Suede’s heroes. It gives the band put their own formidable abilities into a larger contextual framework. Lets hope that if they keep writing new music it meets these high standards. In the meantime we have another fabulous album to add to this year’s already impressive list of releases.
For Fans of: Blur, David Bowie, The Smiths
Key Tracks: “Barriers” “It Starts and Ends with You” “Faultlines”