Album Review: Suede – “The Blue Hour”
Of all the bands who were herded under the all-encompassing mid-90s indie umbrella that was was Britpop, I’d argue that Suede (along with Pulp) were the ones who had the most in common with the music we cover on Pure Rawk. Possessing a decadent swagger and savage style a million miles away from neanderthals like Oasis, their music owed far more to the golden age of Bowie, Bolan and Roxy Music than to any sort of tired 60s retread, and their first two albums remain stone cold classics to this day before the law of diminishing returns started to slowly creep in.
Through various splits, reformations and line-up changes, Brett Anderson and co have managed to steadily navigate their way through the intervening 25 years (Christ, that makes me feel old) to cement their place as well-respected elder statesmen of alternative music, and “The Blue Hour” is their third album since the Mk 2 line-up got back together in the late noughties. Similar to its predecessors, 2013’s “Blood Sports” and 2016’s “Night Thoughts”, it’s a loosely conceptual album with the themes based around the hour around dusk, the titular blue hour.
While those two albums were solid efforts which proved that Suede were still a going concern, “The Blue Hour” is probably their strongest offering since getting back together. Yes, it’s not quite as good as their eponymous debut or “Dog Man Star” (let’s face it, that was always going to be a tall order) but it’s definitely on a par with anything else they’ve done down the years. Similar to its predecessors, it’s got a big surround-sound cinemascape feel to it, but it maybe packs a little bit more of a punch with the swooping likes of “Beyond The Outskirts”, “Tides” and “Don’t Be Afraid If Nobody Loves You” being the sound of a band playing with confidence and keen to test what they can do.
Anderson’s voice has evolved from the sneer of old to a more authoritative boom as evidenced on the stark “Wastelands” and “Mistress”, and behind him the band keep things focused and tight. All in all, “The Blue Hour” is a good addition to Suede’s back catalogue and should go down well among their followers.
Probably Suede's most fully realised album since their reformation at the start of the decade, "The Blue Hour" mixes some heart-stopping dynamics on the slow numbers with a good solid punch on the faster ones and comes up smelling of roses. Although it may not appeal to those who didn't like the band to begin with, this should be more than enough to keep the band's sizeable following happy.