Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Although still identifiably Suede (yearning melodrama, emotional Bowie-esque ballads) since their return after a decade-long hiatus in 2013 with the unexpectedly sound Bloodsports, there's a more nakedly autobiographical and deliberate uncertainty to singer Brett Anderson's lyrics here (What I'm Trying to Tell You).
Married with two children and closing in on 50, Anderson here offers mature reflection (the opener When You Are Young and its counterpoint When You Were Young near the end), uncertainty (No Tomorrow) and the passage of time in family and relationships (I Don't Know How to Reach You, I Can't Give Her What She Wants).
This doesn't mean they've abandoned signature heroics (the widescreen Outsiders sounds like classic guitar-jangle Suede) or their sense of theatre.
Indeed, the special edition of the album comes with a DVD feature film directed by NME photographer Roger Sargent in which these songs illustrate a shifting narrative. This stand-alone film -- in which Sargent bring his single-frame eye to a series of arresting but interlocked images -- opens with a fully-clothed man swimming suicidally beyond his ability to get back to the deserted beach, then flicks back through a series of disconcerting sequences from a struggling relationship.
There is a claustrophobic feel to the visual story -- sometimes real inter-generational, kitchen-sink drama -- which matches the tautness of the music with rare empathy.
But equally so, the CD stands as an entity beyond the images.
With the music conceived before Anderson wrote the lyrics, the songs segue into each other as widescreen, orchestrated pieces and inspire the varying moods (the reflective, almost ambient shimmer of Pale Snow).
If it lacks the adolescent, ambisexual thrill of their early Nineties albums that has been replaced by a persuasive ambition, starkly real maturity and self-confidence.
Gripping stuff all round, and you need the CD/DVD set for a full appreciation of the intelligence driving all this.