Suede, by Suede
Suggested by Mike Wootton
In my erstwhile and juvenile career as a Covers Band Drummer, I played along to a number of great songs.
With Scooby Doo and the Mystery Machine, my favourites were heavy – For Whom the Bell Tolls, a thrashing Stone Cold Crazy – or the upbeat – Hip To Be Square, the Vic Reeves take on Dizzy. With Badger, my favourites were the sublime – Are You Gonna Go My Way, the Police’s So Lonely – and the ridiculous – Boom Shake The Room with me on Rap duty, Enter Sandman with our Mr Sandman vocal break. Spanning both bands, there was the upbeat AND ridiculous Fight For Your Right to Party. (In Sara-Jane and the Pop Tarts, the focus was rightfully on the talent front and centre, while us in the backing band rode along, basking and busking with a smile.)
In Badger, we also played Animal Nitrate, from Suede’s 1993 debut album. It was… okay. I guess.
I don’t know who decided that we played Animal Nitrate. It was likely a decision made to throw in something recent and popular, as Suede loomed large over the indie crown and charts for a full year leading to the album’s release. Animal Nitrate was a Top 10 single, and, probably more importantly considering the band’s mixed skillset, remarkably easy to play.
It’s a decent song, even now. The Suede sound has dated, and even the most vociferous Britpopper has thrown off the moribund scene and set sail for musical pastures new. It’s my personal standout on what’s an aging sub-classic release, partly through personal nostalgia. Honestly, I couldn’t fault you if you preferred Metal Mickey.
Brett Anderson’s nasal androgyny is the band’s calling card, but there’s more to their signature sound than an emo wail. Bernard Butler’s spangled and jarring guitar work blusters through the faster rocky tracks, such as Moving or Animal Lover, but it’s on such songs where Anderson’s vocals lose a little of their emotive edge. There’s craft in all of the songs, admittedly, but it’s the more reflective numbers that properly capture the best-tasting blend of Suede-brand coffee. In songs like She’s Not Dead and Sleeping Pills, the band cash in on their promise of delivering something more exciting than the other gurning stalwarts of the genre.
But in the end, Suede feel like a product of their day. To me, they sound exactly like the summer of 1993, and nothing more. Suede, by Suede, gets a plumb-centre 5/10. Although they went on to create a handful of successful hits, namely Beautiful Ones and Trash, to me they’re forever sat in a limiting musical snow globe. Pick them up and shake them, sure, but the snow settles quickly as the novelty fades.