Why the new Suede track Barriers makes me yearn for The Tears

Ashley Music 1 Comment

In case you missed it in the post Christmas and New Year comedown (and the fact that David Bowie announced his album the day after) glam popsters Suede are back with a new album in March and Brett Anderson is very excited about its potential.

He told the NME

“[It’s] called ‘Bloodsports’. It’s about lust, it’s about the chase, it’s about the endless carnal game of love. It was possibly the hardest we ever made but certainly is the most satisfying. It’s 10 furious songs have reclaimed for me what Suede was always about: drama, melody and noise.”

Preceding even the official single ‘It Starts And Ends With You’, which is due in February, the band have unveiled a new track called Barriers, which is getting loads of plays on BBC Radio Six.

I must admit I wasn’t too impressed the first few times I heard it – Killers-lite came to mind, but I stuck with it and it sure has a catchy chorus and oddly it reminds me of The Manic Street Preachers in their early 90s heyday. And as for that whoop it is straight out of the Bono handbook.

More than anything else though it has me scuttling back not to Suede’s 90s albums but the orphan of the band’s catalogue 2005’s brilliant Here Come The Tears.

The Tears was the reunion band that featured both Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler who played a series of gigs and recorded a very special album in 2005. Both Anderson and Butler were seemingly at a bit of a loose end and to be fair after the project both would be energised and go on to incredible things – Anderson with the triumphant Suede reunion tour and Butler with his production duties for Duffy et al.

In 2005 the band’s status was at its lowest ebb, it wasn’t long enough away from the weaker albums that they band made at the end of their career, Butler hadn’t yet found his muse and Anderson was months away from his solo career. So when Here Come The Tears was released it was met by mainly polite reviews (it got very few bad ones) and a great deal of indifference.

Sure hardcore Suede fans, excited by the of the coming together of the two main protagonists of the band – who basically hadn’t spoken to each other since Butler walked out of the Dog Man Star sessions – cherished the album, but it was quickly forgotten. The fact that Anderson seemed very keen to bury The Tears almost as quickly as the band had got going, didn’t help either.

If you approach it with fresh ears I am sure you will conclude Here Come The Tears is an absolute glam pop masterpiece. It might not be Dog Man Star but, boy it runs it close. Personally I rate it as one of the best five or so albums of the last decade and believe that one day it will be hailed as a masterpiece.

If ever two musicians were meant to be together it is these two. On the album Butler takes some gorgeous Anderson-penned tunes and kicks them off into the stratosphere with that incendiary multi tracked guitar/wall of sound that made the early Suede records so special. The tunes seem to have an oomph and a drive sadly missing in almost all their post-Coming Up Recordings.

Just like Coming Up, its nearest equivalent in the Suede canon, Here Come The Tears is a like a greatest hits album. Potential single follows potential single each one packing the type of hooks, harmonies, killer guitar moments and glammy drama that their rivals at the time could only dream about.

Highlights? Every track has something special. If you want Trash-like anthems than take Lovers, Refugees and Autograph. If you love Dog Man Star style brilliantly executed dramatic ballads then how about Apollo 13 and The Ghost of You. There’s even a big finale in vein of The Next Life – the difference is that the minor key piano-driven A Love As Strong As Death is even more memorable than the album codas that precede it.

Finally Brett is on fine form lyrically. Sure there’s the odd cheesy rhyme, but the tale of clearing a dead mother’s house in The Ghost Of You and the contagious you and me against the world vibe of Two People and Lovers are much sharper and more resonant than anything he has written in a while.

Here Come The Tears is a joyous celebration of life, love and death. It is the sound of two souls who reunited and re-discovered themselves. If Bloodsports is a fifth as good as this it will be a wonderful album.