After Suede 3.0 cemented their presence with 2013’s ‘Bloodsports’, a record which took 1996’s ‘Coming Up’ as its blueprint, it was 2016’s ‘Night Thoughts’ which confirmed there were still plenty of suburban miles left to travel with gasoline in the tank. A darker, orchestral meditation on addiction which arrived with an accompanying film, it marked a further evolution of the band’s sound that reaches its crescendo with ‘The Blue Hour’.
While unashamedly theatrical at points, such as opener ‘As One’ and the spoken-word ‘Roadkill’ which surely nods to Bowie’s ‘Future Legend’, this album also contains some of Suede’s most gloriously strident choruses in quite some time. ‘Cold Hands’ has some delightfully playful macho backing vocals, while ‘Life Is Golden’ is a soaring triumph, peaking as Brett Anderson ascends to a familiar falsetto. It is arguably their best song in twenty-two years.
The colossal strings on ‘The Invisibles’ are marshalled by soundtrack supremo Craig Armstrong, while ‘Flytipping’ combines the most Suede song title imaginable with a delicately paced, increasingly grandiose backdrop to deliver an emphatic conclusion. ‘The Blue Hour’ is unlikely to win Suede many new followers, but it should convince any fans of old that their vitality is restored and they are at the peak of their powers once more.
Words: Gareth James
Dig It? Dig Deeper: David Bowie, The Associates, The Smiths
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