Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Suede: 'The 2 Of Us'

The partnership of Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler produced some superior songs in their mid-nineties heyday, moulding their overt influences from glam rock and sixties pop into a couple of era defining albums.

By the time the band had settled on its definitive lineup they had already stepped into an alternative media frenzy, due in no small part to their fresh sound which proved to be a remedy to the dying Madchester scene and U.S. grunge overkill.

Their first album Suede became the fastest-selling debut since Frankie Goes to Hollywood's Welcome To the Pleasuredome, they picked up the mercury prize but couldn’t quite crack America.

By their second album Dog Man Star they had become unwilling participants in a scene they helped create, namely Brit-Pop. While Blur and Oasis were building their careers, the tensions within the band mounted. Anderson and Butler fought constantly; a major issue was the production direction of the album. Butler had enough and walked out, leaving the remainder of the guitar work on the album to be completed by studio musicians or Brett Anderson.

The album itself features a spacious sound that was fleshed out by strings and other effects, designed to take focus away from the lack of Butler’s guitar. A glamorous aura of death pervades much of Anderson’s lyrics, exploring darker territory at odds with Brit-Pop’s optimism. The band revels in the new gutter chic atmosphere.

‘The 2 Of Us’ features a grandiose piano over a lavish chord sequence with Anderson oscillating wildly between overwrought baritone and high Bowie-esque yodelling. Of course, copious histrionics abound, but when you listen to Suede you know what you’re getting into.

Following the demise of Suede in 2003, Butler and Anderson would finally patch things up for a single album reunion under the pseudonym ‘The Tears’ in 2005. The album was well received but sold zilch, leading to a hiatus. Anderson has released a couple of solo albums which haven’t been well received at all and Butler moved into the production side of things, working with ‘The Libertines’ amongst others.

Where to find: Dog Man Star (1994)

No comments: