Autofiction: autobiography, at one literary remove. After decades of documenting the drama, grit and hedonistic deviance of youth, and several recent albums (2016’s Night Thoughts, 2018’s The Blue Hour) featuring cinematic overtones and art-house horror narrative threads, Suede’s ninth album is a back-to-basics ‘punk’ affair utilising their raw alt.rock thrust to deliver some equally unvarnished personal truths.
She Still Leads Me On powers through singer Brett Anderson’s grief at the loss of his mother, 15 Again glorifies teenage ennui in the form of soaring synth-rock – Autofiction is heavy on Neil Codling’s stratospheric synth work, as well as Anderson’s philosophical spoken-word verses – and the diabolic glam That Boy On The Stage gets inside the head of a performer bottling up a lifetime’s rage.
How much of this, or of the album’s piano-led cosmic breakup balladry (Drive Myself Home, What Am I Without You?), is confessional Anderson autobiography in keeping with his recent book Afternoons With The Blinds Drawn is all part of Autofiction’s (and Suede’s) embedded enigma.
But given that for Suede ‘stripped back’ still means ballsy and bombastic, it slots beautifully into one of alt.rock’s most refined catalogues. The scorching, Cure-like final track is titled Turn Off Your Brain And Yell, but when Suede try it they naturally bellow poetry.