Masturbation and cocaine addiction may, generally speaking, be considered the highest forms of self-indulgence, but they’ve got nothing on a Brett Anderson solo album. Once Britpop’s snake-hipped pretend-bisexual clown prince, Anderson is a far more introspective character these days – the sort who’d rather don a rollneck sweater and retire solemnly to the piano in his shed than hit the suburban streets and get psycho for sex and glue.
Over the past decade, his decline – from Suede’s split to The Tears to an increasingly indifferent solo career – has been pretty terminal, and this album of po-faced, lovelorn piano ballads will do little to change his fortunes. Sweeping strings and gently-plucked acoustic guitars weep sycophantically in the foreground on ‘A Different Place’ and Brett’s ivory-tinkling – on the likes of ‘Chinese Whispers’ and ‘The Empress’ – rarely progresses past the My First Stab At ‘Imagine’ songbook, each tune barely distinguishable from the next. Need you even ask, meanwhile, about the lyrics?
At best, his words are boring, silly or totally forgettable. At worst? Let’s just say you need a song that rhymes clown with frown and town (‘Clowns’) in your life like you need permanent piles. Most depressing of all is that Brett Anderson, once one of Britain’s most beguiling indie-pop stars, has become this irrelevant. He’d probably like to think ‘Wilderness’ is his grand moment of self-deconstruction. It’s actually the sound of a man desperately searching for his mojo and only ever arriving at his own navel.