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The Second Life of Suede


Suede might be the defining band of their era. They appeared to have everything: fantastic songs, a striking image, an incredible guitarist (Bernard Butler who departed from Suede in 1994 and replaced with Richard Oakes), and a singer who realised that a truly great rock star is often a piquantly ridiculous figure, just like David Bowie.

Suede's lyrics strike the balance between decadence and elegance, and seek meaningful, one-on-one connections.

Suede in 1992

Suede in 1996, with guitarist Richard Oakes and keyboardist-rhythm guitarist Neil Codling

After attracted much attention and continuous success since their debut album in 1992, in early 2000's, Suede lost their demon.

Their fifth album, A New Morning (2002), became a commercial disappointment. Then the band disbanded in 2003.

7 years later, in March 2010, all members of Suede played in front of the audience for the first time after they break up. They played that emotional performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London as part of the 2010 Teenage Cancer Trust shows. Brett Anderson said:

"It was of my favourite shows of all time. We were dripping with sweat when we came off stage and I can’t remember who said it, but someone said we have got to do that again.”

Despite the gig initially being billed as a one night only reformation, Suede did two UK 'warm up' gigs, and between 2010 - 2011, the band played at many festivals around the world.
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Suede began recording a new album in 2012 and in March 2013, they released a comeback record following decade-long hiatuses, their sixth album, Bloodsports. Suede had returned to their decade-long practice of releasing small-scale solo albums.

On Suede's first post-reunion album, Bernard Butler remains absent. But, Richard Oakes, Neil Codling, Mat Osman, and Simon Gilbert has an undeniably reinvigorating effect on frontman Brett Anderson.

Anderson wrote the characters of sad, young men, and the other who made up the 1990s Suede material. On Bloodsports, Suede infused 90s formula of Coming Up (their third album), into something new.

"For The Strangers"

Rather than try to out-snort men half their age and swagger back onto the scene, here the songs describe the cycle of a relationship, the ecstasy of initial intimacy, mistrust, paranoia, ego, and obsession iseedy, suburban decay lyrics. 

The songs are romantic, menacing and carnal. They set the tone for a drama across the 10 exhilarating tracks.
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On 22 January 2016, Suede released their seventh album, Night Thoughts. It’s also accompanied by a fitfully bleak feature-length film directed by Roger Sargent, that shows a drowning man’s reminiscences about the familial tragedy that’s driven him to commit suicide in the sea. 

The songs don’t actually reference specific characters in the feature film. It's more about rueful ruminations, the idealism of youth and the impossibility of recapturing it. 

Suede are no longer young people, and no longer speaking for them. On Night Thoughts, Suede are the embattled survivors sharing cautionary tales of bad decision, uncertainty, death, guilt, and dreams unfulfilled.

"Outsiders"

Suede never shared their godhead’s flair for radical experimentation. But, Richard Oakes swirls of stardust-speckled guitar riffage and grandiose style, twists out on the epic playing is quite something.

Mat Osman bass and Simon Gilbert drums have a propulsive quality perhaps not heard from them before. The fluting strains of Neil Codling keyboard strings lend an epic sadness.

Lurking in the background of all of it is Codling who has worked with producer Ed Buller to create a richly arranged whole.

Anderson's voice continues to go from strength to strength. He has something of a marmite voice, but for those who get it, this is luxurious. 

Anderson keeps his emotions set to high, with every breath between words accentuated for a maximum gut-punch feeling. The full string session only make the words hit harder.


Night Thoughts released in the time that fits within Suede aesthetic, similar to their second album, Dog Man Star, that they commissioned in 1994.

Many of those original fans, who first connected with Suede's naughty wide-eyed dreaming, are now of an age where Anderson's most personal lyricism yet will connect in a new, very different, way. Their times and lives have changed too, but the uncynical passion is still there, just as it is with the band onstage.

There's also more than enough here to win the hearts of the younger fans who increasingly pack the front rows of Suede gigs. 

Suede are always better when they have something to prove. Anderson’s poetry and the grand, theatrical sound of Suede’s music creates the sense that their world is collapsing beautifully.

They're such a unique group that to compare this to the finest moments of their past seems churlish. It certainly is the sound of a band stepping out of their own shadow to finally be all they can be by tackling ambitious projects long after anybody expected it.