Earlier this month, a brand-new band popped up on the line-up for London’s beloved tiny sweatbox The Moth Club. The listing was for ‘Crushed Kid’, a group with nothing more to their name than a distorted robo-punk track on SoundCloud, but this turned out to be Suede playing a less-than-secret gig in the capital and debuting their ninth album ‘Autofiction’ in full.
It was a bold stunt from a group who’ve come back anew so many times before. They survived the departure of legendary guitarist Bernard Butler in the ‘90s, then carried off one of the greatest comebacks of the 21st Century when they returned with their first new music in over a decade for 2013’s stellar ‘Bloodsports’ and the might follow-up ‘Night Thoughts’ in 2016.
While 2018 album ‘The Blue Hour’ closed the NME Godlike Genius alumni’s reunion triptych in a more cinematic and theatrical bent, ‘Autofiction’ very much feels like they’re ripping it up and starting again. As frontman Brett Anderson told NME earlier this year: “I wanted to come back and make something that felt a little bit more raw, a little bit more angry, a little bit more nasty. ‘Autofiction’ is our punk record.”
With their DIY glam aesthetic, anti-macho attitude and songs of urban decay, degenerate trash and the beautiful ones shaking their bits to the hits, Suede have always been punk in spirit, but now there’s real snarl in their sound too. That’s not to say it sounds like the Pistols or Minor Threat – but classic Suede with the attitude and urgency turned way up.
You hear that in the compulsion of pumping opener ‘She Still Leads Me On’, with Anderson feeling that “in many, many ways, I’m still a young boy” as he chases a love with “a dangerous mind”. ‘Personality Disorder’ is spiky and unhinged, ‘15 Again’ rollicks along with the youthful abandon and imagery of its name and album highlight ‘Shadow Self’ makes for a gnarly post-punk ghost train of a ride.
This is a Suede record, so there are moments of aching majesty – see the tormented ‘It’s Always The Quiet Ones’, ‘Turn Off Your Brain And Yell’ and the hopelessly devoted ‘What Am I Without You’ (which sees Anderson giving himself to his fans) – but, all in all, ‘Autofiction’ finds the indie greats getting back in the garage to make a racket. This is a band with a lust for life.
Release date: September 16
Record label: BMG