When Suede exploded on to the music scene with their debut album in 1993, they injected a much needed shot of glamour into the staid and grey world of British indie pop. The glam rock stomp and tales of suburban alienation and sexual deviancy of early singles 'The Drowners' and 'Animal Nitrate' catapulted them on to the front page of every music weekly in the land and very quickly, they became the most talked about band in Britain. With androgynous lead singer Brett Anderson providing a ready supply of controversial quotes, Suede became the first British band since the Smiths to inspire rabid devotion from fans and near hatred from non-believers. Their debut album went gold in Britain on its second day of release but it wasn't long before tensions within the band led to the departure of guitar wunderkind Bernard Butler. Replacement guitarist Richard Oakes did a reasonable job of imitating the trademark Butler guitar sound and the band continued to enjoy reasonable success before calling it a day in 2003.
And now they are back with Bloodsports, their sixth album and unquestionably their best since Coming Up in 1996. Bloodsports sounds like some long lost recording that should have surfaced between their debut and their critically acclaimed third album Dog Man Star, a cryogenically frozen Suede reanimated and reinvigorated with the cocky self-assurance of old. The swagger is back – guitar heavy tracks like 'Snowblind' and 'It Starts and Ends with You' are fantastic pop songs that rank up there with the best of some Suede's early work. The grandiose 'What Are You Not Telling Me?' is Suede at their most epic and dramatic while 'Faultlines' works on a similarly grand scale.
If you were a fan of Suede the first time around, chances are this album will instantly appeal, recapturing some of the magic of their early work. If Andersons Bowie mannerisms and the bands glam rock leanings left you unmoved before, then it is pretty safe to assume you will find nothing here that will change your opinion.
While Bloodsports is unlikely to elevate Suede to the lofty heights they enjoyed back in the nineties, it is an album that recalls a time when the band ruled supreme, at the very top of the Britpop pile.
Everything that once made Suede great is here - singer Anderson still sings like Anderson, guitarist Oakes still plays guitar like Butler and all is as it should be in the world of Suede.
Review by Paul Page