Spring is the season for comebacks, and few have been as long in gestation as Suede’s. No Bowie-style surprise release here; having re-formed in 2010 they have already ditched one album’s worth of new songs before recording this, their sixth studio album.
The decision appears to be a sound one. Ed Buller, who produced their opening trio of albums, returns, and with him comes the familiar mix of epic pomp, pop melodies and carnal dramatics that helped Suede become the dark outsiders of Brit Pop. Like many bands from that era, Suede struggled to mature. And following the departure of lauded guitarist Bernard Butler they spent the turn of the century shedding their grandiose gestures in exchange for more prosaic imagery and (less guitar-leaning) melodic rock.
On new album Bloodsports, though, the guitar – the often underestimated Richard Oakes soars throughout – and Brett Anderson’s erotic allusions are back in the ascendancy. It Starts And Ends With You is the obvious stand-out, with Oakes’s guitar blazing as Anderson recounts a violent struggle. But whereas in the 90s such a scene would have been shaded by a sinister, decadent undertow, here the fleshy encounters are laced with positivity.
For The Strangers covers similar libidinous ground, while those in search of unironic gothic revelry will enjoy Sabotage, which describes a woman whose ‘touch is like a raven’s shadow’. Suede sound like Suede again.