Suede’s 2013 album Bloodsports, their first in a decade, was hailed as something of a return to form after the lukewarm couple of efforts they'd released before calling it a day.
But if you enjoyed that, you really need to hear this follow-up, as it blows it completely out of the water, and might just be the best record they’ve ever made.
The seventh studio offering by the band who kick-started Britpop more than 20 years ago is, for me, an album of the year contender.
Make no mistake, they‘ve finally stepped out of the shadow of their own (considerable) past achievements to deliver an absolute belter of an album.
Produced by long-time collaborator Ed Buller, who worked on their self-titled debut, Dog Man Star and Coming Up, as well as Bloodsports, it strikes a perfect balance between killer guitar pop and their darker side.
Featuring a full string section, it’s grandiose in places, particularly on When You Are Young and The Fur And The Feathers, the two songs which bookend the record, and which give singer Brett Anderson the chance to show himself at his most theatrical.
He’s in superb voice throughout, while guitarist Richard Oakes has cast off the ghost of Bernard Butler once and for all with some corruscating riffs.
Lead single Outsiders and the upbeat No Tomorrow are excellent songs; in fact they’re the equal of anything in their back catalogue – and that includes the likes of Trash and Beautiful Ones.
Like Kids is classic Suede, an upbeat song with dark lyrics, while the brooding I Can’t Give Her What She Wants is possibly the standout track.
The songs deal with life, death, love, anguish and despair, and those themes are expanded on in the feature film which accompanies the special edition, though that’s probably for diehards only.
Most music lovers, whether long-time Suede fans or casual listeners, will find plenty to enjoy on this wonderful record. 9/10.