BEST OF 2013: 18. Suede – Bloodsports

The various Suede gigs since they reformed seemed like a decent idea, a sensible way to draw a proper line under the band instead of the dismal way everything petered out grimly with 2003’s ‘A New Morning’. Having meant so much to so many – myself included – it was only right that they have their victory lap and mark their place in history. However, the band got back together and found they had something worthwhile to say again. The well-worn nineties reunion route gave way to more when it became clear that the old frisson was still there.

Conscious of how things had petered out a decade previous, the selection of material was arduous, with dozens of songs dispatched until it was felt that they had found their form again. The result is the natural follow up to ‘Coming Up’ that never originally came. The album swaggers, fizzes and crackles with life from start to finish. This is not a case of making do because somebody will buy it – this was starting over again. And, to a very large extent, they managed it. I’ve been genuinely surprised how much time I’ve spent with this record over the past six months. ‘Barriers’ and ‘It Starts And Ends With You’ are classic mid-period Suede singles and serve to set proceedings alight pretty quickly. ‘Barriers’ is the perfect statement of intent for an album that looks to re-boot history and reassure the faithful.

‘For The Strangers’ and ‘What Are You Not Telling Me?’ reveal a band once again able to play with your emotions, the former an especially shimmering mid-paced rocker with chiming chords and as good a vocal as Brett Anderson has delivered in many a year. The swooping, swaying chorus marks a very high watermark for the mid-point of the album. To follow it with the punchy ‘Hit Me’ – recently united as a double a-sided single – gets the second half rolling nicely, with that ‘Coming Up’ drum sound setting the tone. There is, inevitably, a bit of nostalgia driving this and, by Christ, I wanted this to be good, but it has displayed a staying power I wasn’t fully anticipating. This is very much Suede Mark II, but it is prime Suede Mark II and, if that’s your sort of thing, then ‘Bloodsports’ is a revelation. This is a comeback on their terms, pitting themselves as their own harshest critics. It seems to have worked, reigniting a hugely creative relationship that didn’t deserve its original final paragraph.

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