Suede – Autofiction

A virile return infused with punk-like energy...

Suede (or The London Suede, if you’re in the US) are back with their ninth studio album, an introspective, 11-track sojourn that ruminates on the gruelling mechanisms of fame almost 30 years after the band’s eponymous debut. While their last release, 2018’s ‘The Blue Hour’, was subversive and esoteric, an experimental jaunt into a cinematic world of macabre gloom, ‘Autofiction’ is a punk-inclined renaissance for Suede, a return to the primordial soup which once birthed them as one of the most pivotal bands of the 90s.

The record opens with ‘She Still Leads Me On’, an expansive rumination on lead singer Brett Anderson’s relationship with his mother. It’s a fittingly intimate opener, cutting through the brush and getting straight to the nucleus of this album’s mission: to recreate the ritual energy that imbues their audience at gigs. ‘The Only Way I Can Love You’ is a howl at the moon, a blazing declaration of passion with dextrous guitar riffage and thrashing drums. ‘That Boy On The Stage’ is an apocalyptic insight into the despondency of stage persona, Anderson crooning, “He speaks of love and power / And all those pretty things / You know the voice that threatens you / Is not the voice that sins”.

Suede – Autofiction

Suede goes sentimental on ‘Drive Myself Home’, a ballad full of lush orchestral ambiance and emotive cries, while ‘Shadow Self’ contends with the somber themes of ageing in the band’s newly rediscovered sonic nonchalance. The album resolves with ‘Turn Off Your Brain And Yell’.

It’s expansive and spectral, an emphatic release with open arms, closing the album in warm luminosity with the bellowed lyric “Come on, feel the sunshine / When you turn off your brain and yell”.

‘Autofiction’ is simultaneously forward-looking and nostalgic. It pays homage to the callow naivety of the young band they once were in its thrashing form and gritty sentiment, but with the sonic maturation and profound lyricism of a group who has paid their dues. Though the days of the jangly, innocuous Britpop they were so integral to establishing are gone, Suede haven’t lost their roots – they’ve just re-established them for a new era.

8/10

Words: Bella Savignano

Inset Photo: Dean Chalkley

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