Band reunions don’t tend to end too well now do they? Sure that mammoth one off gig in front of adoring fans is a win for both band and its devotees. It is when the band decides to regroup in the studio that the fun seems to end as invariably the band create music that adds very little to their legend.
There was however one key band reunion in the mid noughties that not only generated some amazing gigs, but yielded one of the best albums of that decade.
Here Come The Tears, the reunion album that teamed up Brett Anderson and Bernard Bulter for the first time since Dog Man Star was an absolute triumph. Joyful uplifting songs, sensitive thoughtful lyrics and that incendiary wall of sound guitar effect that was pure Butler. It was a work of genius and had they recorded it in the mid nineties it would be seen as the jewel of the Suede canon – along with Dog Man Star. But because they were older and wiser and apparently still at each other’s throats, it bombed.
Which brings me neatly onto yet another reunion album – Suede’s Bloodsports. Due in the store next week it is the band’s first since their ‘not as terrible as everyone makes out’ 2002 swansong A New Morning and while it is no Here Come The Tears it is a very strong record.
It seems like Brett has once again got ants in his pants. New Morning and its predecessor Head Music was low on the classic shoot for the skies anthemic pop songs that made the band special in the first place. By the time you get to the single Its Starts And Ends With You on Bloodsports you will have already heard three stratospheric pop songs. This is the sound of a band with its Mojo in tact. Bloodsports may even be the long lost follow up to Coming Up.
Barriers, you probably know. It might owe a little to mid period U2 with all that yelping, but the way the tune twists and turns is inspired. It Starts And Ends With You is classic Suede and possibly the best single since Beautiful Ones. This song is just wonderfully crafted. It all fits together so perfectly from its angsty guitar riffs through to Brett’s high notes at the end of the chorus.
Then there’s Sabotage which starts modestly enough but blossoms into a wonderfully anthemic tune (U2 again folks) with another glorious Oakes guitar coda. Its finale is magnificent.
For the Strangers is yet another gem, if anything it is the track that sounds most like The Tears, while Hit Me in the old days would probably have been their first single from the album – immediate, anthemic (that word again) and with plenty of Brett’s trademark la, la, la’s.
Then we get on to the ballads. Here Come The tears has a quartet of classic slowies, and on Bloodsports Brett shows us that he still has the knack of creating delicate melodies that tug on the heart strings. What Are You Not Telling Me nails that self-pitying whimper that Anderson has perfected over the years. But even that dramatic tune is put in the shade by the double killer punch of Always and Faultines. Think Asphalt World and Still Life as the template and you won’t be too far off. They might not be as epic as those two songs, but the distance isn’t as great as you might think.
So Bloodsports is great. A wonderful statement of all that was great about Suede first time round before the drugs and egos kicked in.
It isn’t Dog Man Star, it isn’t Here Come The Tears – but then again not much is. For now though this will do brilliantly.
Listen to it here.