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Suede - Coming Up

(Nude/Columbia, 1996)

In a position to create the biggest music disaster this side of the Stone Roses’, Suede stepped into the studio, untried guitarist and shiny new keyboardist at hand, and put out an LP which has left their fans with one big question -- “Bernard who?” Coming Up may not have the scope of Dog Man Star, but any differences between the two are more a question of style, not quality. Gone are the 10 minute orchestral pieces, but what remains is still quintessentially Suede -- a series of hard-rocking glam-tinged pop songs that have retained all the energy of Suede and all the glamour of Dog Man Star, while shedding some of the showier overproduction. They’ve even thrown in “By The Sea,” and “The Chemistry Between Us,” a couple of bittersweet ballads that would fit in nicely in between “The Two of Us” and “Black or Blue.” From the opening bars of “Trash” to the closing murmurs of “Saturday Night,” Suede once again take us on a journey through the depths of urban boredom and decay, past visions of burning cars, wrecked relationships, and the romantic beauty of a world seen through a drug-haze. Brett Anderson’s ability to take the dark underbelly of society and turn its inhabitants into sympathetic heroes is astounding. On “The Beautiful Ones” he sings “shave-heads, rave-heads, on the pill, got too much time to kill get into bands and gangs, here they come the beautiful ones...” creating a brilliant celebration of misspent youth. He explains “You don’t think about it, you don’t do without it.” His heroes live their lives with a decadent lust for excitement, enjoying all their vices unapologetically. They are “trash” but they find their beauty in the dirty, gritty, everyday squalor and misery that makes up our lives. In one of the most spellbinding songs on the album, “Picnic By the Motorway,” he croons “There’s been a speeding disaster so let’s go to the motorway.” He suggests, “We could go dancing, we could go walking, we could go shopping, we could keep talking...” It doesn’t matter what the people in his world do as long as they drain all the energy they can from it. Coming Up is a mature third album from a band that only seems to get better with age; and with a songwriting team consisting of a guitarist and keyboard player having just played on their first album, and a lyricist with a flare for the poetic, there is more than a little hope for Suede’s future.

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