AS FAR as comebacks are concerned, this has already been a great year. David Bowie’s The Next Day was a marker, a creative high watermark in his output since the 80s, and in a similar vein, last week saw the release of Bloodsports, the first album in a decade from Britpop icons Suede.
Suede were one of the acts who first lit the fuse of Britpop that blew away the grunge movement on this side of the pond over a glorious three-year period that saw them appear on innumerable magazine covers and deliver on the hype of being the best new band in Britain.
Classic singles like The Drowners, Animal Nitrate and New Generation, and the home-run hits of their first three albums cemented them as a class act, and ensured a level of fan devotion close to Suedemania.
Brett Anderson’s androgynous, agressive croon was the perfect foil for Bernard Butler’s (and later, Richard Oakes’) intricate and shining guitar parts, the combination recalling early 70s Bowie, filled with London swagger and pop sensibility that ensured their longevity extended well beyond other acts from the scene who tried to plough the same furrows.
For a band who blazed so brightly at their first appearance on the scene, to have gone out with the whimper of A New Morning in 2002 was hugely disappointing.
Promising at the time of their split the year after A New Morning’s release to come back when the time was artistically right is something that Suede have delivered on in spades with Bloodsports.
The record is everything that New Morning was not — bright, confident and full to the brim with great tunes, to the extent that there are songs here, like opener Barriers and lead track It Starts And Ends With You, that have already been added to the ultimate Suede playlists of fans worldwide.
Barriers, and the other songs that comprise the first half of the record, stake Suede’s case for a justified return to the battlefield in the same way as The Next Day does for Bowie.
Everything you ever loved about Suede is here – the tubthumping drums, the shimmering production and lyrics that invoke glorious vulnerability and glamour in the dirt, postcards from the underside of city life.
Snowblind is a soaring stomp, while the most glaringly Suede-esque track, Hit Me, ticks all of the boxes for classic status, a rollicking opening and chorus that scales the speakers, and one of the more gratuitous uses of “La la la, la la” in rock in recent times.
Taking the pace down for the last four tracks, Suede deliver some of their most affecting songs of their careers, Sometimes I Feel I’ll Float Away and Faultlines both recalling one of their finest moment, The Wild Ones.
Anyone thinking of making a comeback this year now has another incredibly high bar to clear.