It won't attract any new admirers but old fans will love them more for it
For a while back there Suede had the lot. A machine-gun drummer, a six-foot six-inch stick insect on bass, a glam Johnny Marr on guitar and a ‘Cracked Actor’ era [a]Libertines[/a] on vocals. All with lyrics hand delivered by J.G.Ballard. It couldn’t last. Having imploded after the epic folly of ‘Dog Man Star’ Suede have been so static that a passing PC would have to do them for loitering.
Full marks then for the laborious recording saga surrounding ‘A New Morning’. There are probably better ways to spend two and a half years and a million quid but hey, this is a Suede album. Let Africa go hungry. Lyrically Brett is on top form. Who else in rock could supply us with lines as daft as: “[I]It’s the t-shirts that you choose/Like you’re in the air force”[/I] (‘Obsessions’) or [I]”It’s the beat of the concrete street/That you’ll love for a million years”[/I] (‘Street Life’). Clearly the muse has not deserted him.
At times, Suede remain musically deep frozen. It is doubtful whether even Neil Codling could tell the difference between tracks on ‘ A New Morning’ and anything Suede have recorded since ‘Coming Up’. That said, when Suede are good, they’e great. ‘Astrogirl’ has shades of the almighty ‘The Asphalt World’; ‘When The Rain Falls’ is as mournful as ‘The Big Time’. A fragile ‘Lonely Girls’ could even be off ‘Dog Man Star’. That talk of making an ‘[I]experimental folk record[/I]’ suddenly makes perfect sense.
Ironically, it’s when they try their hardest to be Suede that things go haywire. ‘Beautiful Loser’ is a hamfisted attempt to recreate ‘Metal Mickey’; ‘Street Life’ the sort of thrash even [a][/a] would think twice about. It’s almost as if Brett feels compelled to exit his Notting Hill pad now and then trawl through the graffitti-ridden subways of Basingstoke for our benefit.
Why bother? At its best, ‘A New Morning’ sees Suede show off their vulnerable side again. It won’t attract any new admirers but old fans will love them more for it.