Suede - Coming Up
Without Bernard Butler they just didn't seem to be able to cut the mustard the way they used to. The guitar work is rather flat and has a tendency to wander. The melodies are mediocre, the musical themes are bland and clichéd and the attempts at making a statement fall wide of the mark. The vocals sound weak and whiny as a result because they have come to dominate the sound to a much greater extent than on earlier albums and Brett Anderson never really had a vocal ability to sustain things without his sidekick-in-chief holding things together beside him. That's why Coming Up only gets a three star rating. That is why this was the only Suede album I ever purchased. This comes in spite of the fact that it contains so many top ten singles - five, I think.
What we have then is a band who made some success on the indie scene turning into more and more of a britpop (with the emphasis on the 'pop') outfit since their original guitarist left. (By the way, I don't buy that NME-inspired hype that Suede invented Britpop). Suede never really led anything, they merely followed behind others who had a more coherent musical vision. And whatever uniqueness and originality they had once possessed had long gone by the time Coming Up was released.
The pop was hardly contemporary either. The pop of Suede hearkened back to the camp era of the early- to mid-seventies when glam ruled the UK singles charts, spangles covered the jackets of the boys on stage on Top of the Pops and platform shoes were at least five and a half inches, making the wearer teeter precariously above the adoring crowd at his feet. And half the time you expect the band to break out into a chorus of
"I love you love you love me too love"
though thankfully they never do. The transformation was clearly evident but does it mean that the album actually lacks any lasting merit?
Well, in truth the question can only receive a doubtful and ambiguous answer. Some of the songs stand on their own merit - "Film Star" and "Lazy" for instance. Others are just filler - "Star Crazy". This is pop which doesn't want to be pop, but can't help itself. However hard it tries it is not going to be able to break out of the limitations which it has set itself. What it also can't help is the production which is odd to say the least. Too lush in places, it really does detract from the music. And without the expertise of Butler holding it together, that lushness just overwhelms everything else.
User Reviews and CommentsLog In or Register to Rate Albums
Tell us why this album is great or sucks ass, or correct the reviewer. If you write enough quality reviews you may find yourself on the editorial staff.
Reviews have to be over 100 words, shorter ones are classed as comments.