2013: The year of the comeback continues with a reformed and refueled Suede delivering ‘Bloodsports’ a collection of songs which could nestle comfortably between their eponymous début and 1996’s ‘Coming Up’ as if 1994’s ‘Dog Man Star’ never existed (thankfully it does) such are the similarities in sound, ambience and lyrical wit.
The opening blasts of Barriers delivers trademark glam rock fuzz tones and tremolo notes, minus the glitter. Brett Anderson’s lyrics are vividly quizzical as ever, full of lustful memories and sexual affirmation; after all it wouldn’t be Suede without sex to the fore.
Snowblind is probably the most Bernard Butler-esque sounding song that Suede has produced since the original guitarist parted company with the band and was replaced by Richard Oakes upon the release of ‘Dog Man Star.’ Snowblind evokes the original knowing glint of songs such as The Drowners, which initially captured the hearts of pre Brit pop teens. Snowblind is followed by radio friendly single It Starts And Ends With You ensuring that ‘Bloodsports’ is front loaded with quality tracks.
It’s as if The Edge and Robert Smith have combined to pen the guitar parts in Sabotage, the first of several splendid dark ballads on the album. For The Strangers is reminiscent of fan favourite B-Sides such as Where The Pigs Don’t Fly and is sure to resonate with original fans.
However, don’t be fooled by all these references to past glories Suede aren’t simply regurgitating chord sequences and “La La, La La, La” melody breaks willy nilly; though Anderson does manage to squeeze one in on Hit Me. They have clearly pushed themselves to create something worthy of coming back for and to. This process was no doubt helped by the return of notoriously hard-taskmaster Ed Buller as producer.
Songs such as Sometimes I Feel I’ll Float Away and What Are You Not Telling Me, successfully showcase Anderson’s powerful and dramatic vocal range in a way not seen since the high drama of ‘Dog Man Star.’ And While Richard Oakes may always stay in Bernard Butler’s shadow, he has certainly moved somewhat into the light, thanks to his performance on this record.
‘Bloodsports’ easily swaggers into the top four Suede albums. “Celebrate” as Anderson sings on Faultlines. The year of the comeback has delivered once again.