Cometh the Blue Hour, cometh the Suede
Since they returned after an 11 year hiatus in 2013, Suede graced us with the albums Bloodsports and Night Thoughts. And now Brett Anderson and company return with their brand new album, The Blue Hour. And an interesting album it is too.
But don’t expect a short album though, as this has 14 songs on it. 14 songs that see Suede go into Kate Bush style territory, with strings and synthesizers adorning a good portion of the 51 minutes this album lasts for. As is evident on the opening number, As One. A very epic start to The Blue Hour, with Anderson proclaiming, “Here I Am!”. And indeed, he and the band – Richard Oakes, Simon Gilbert, Mat Osman and Neil Codling – certainly are. That leads into the second song, Wastelands. A more eloquent number this song, with a sprinkling of their mid 1990’s era but having that modern sound to it.
Mistress is the third offering, and is a very direct kind of love song. Anderson gives two different points of view to it all, before seeing it through the eyes of the man who is wanting it all. A good song. As is the fourth song, Beyond The Outskirts. A slow, but not a labouring song. Anderson once again giving a raw and emotional rendition to a number that wouldn’t have looked out of place on their debut album all those years ago. Chalk Circles is the fifth cut on the album, and has a slight interlude feel to it, with Codling, Anderson and Oakes giving an almost Roman film feeling to all of the two minutes the song lasts.
Cold Hands is track number six, and this is where Suede pick up the tempo. A song that has their trademark sound to it, and a song that deserves to be released as a single. Fans of the band will certainly enjoy this one. Halfway through The Blue Hour sees one of the single releases of the album, Life Is Golden. And this song is golden, with Anderson still managing to stretch the vocals chords for the high notes. Some will disagree, but this is one of the best songs since their comeback.
Roadkill is two minutes of spoken word, with accompanying strings as Anderson describes how, “today I found a dead bird”. A nudge in the direction of Edgar Allan Poe maybe? And that gets followed by track number nine, Tides. Another epic sounding song, that brings all sections of Suede together. This will be an interesting song to see live on the forthcoming UK tour. Song ten is Don’t Be Afraid If Nobody Loves You. This was the second single off the new album, and a very good one it is as well. Anderson once again gives the song a serious, but not too serious, approach to it all and to good effect.
After the extremely short interlude of Dead Bird, the twelfth offering of the album is, All The Wild Places. And the strings come into prominence as the band channel their inner Kate Bush on this. Her influence has certainly been evident on Anderson over the years in particular, and this wouldn’t look out of place on any of her albums. And the strings don’t stop there, as they appear on the penultimate song, The Invisibles. A dramatic number, a song of the people who live their life differently and the consequences that lie before them. Anderson really does the business here too, a real vocal master class. The album closes with the latest single release, Flytipping. And it closes The Blue Hour in great style, as Suede show how much they have grown musically over the years in this song. And given the classic album closing songs they had on the debut album and Dog Man Star, this easily fits in with them.
This album will divide opinion among the Suede fans, but all bands go through a change of direction. Some change to go with the current modes of music, some bands go a different route to keep themselves fresh yet still apparent. And The Blue Hour does fall into the latter category. It’s an album that will need your full attention, but hasn’t Suede always had that with everything they’ve done? A fine album from a fine band.
The Blue Hour is out now on all formats on the Warner Music label