Review: Suede – Bloodsports

★★☆☆☆
Two Stars

I wonder whether you can justifiably call an album “very average”, let alone an album by a band with the reputation and track record of Suede. When Suede first really emerged in 1992, they sounded like a mixture between David Bowie and what would become Placebo – a sexy, streamlined, neo-glam band. Nowadays, they sound more like Simple Minds, U2 and Manic Street Preachers bellowing at each other at an old farts’ convention.

Perhaps it’s to be expected or, indeed, only right that such a band should focus less ontheir sex appeal when they’re on the wrong side of the hill. However, you’d think they’d try and at least keep some of the elements that made them so much fun to begin with. The slinky riffs, deft lyrics and androgynous sexuality are all conspicuously absent. Without a new reason to like Suede, this album looks like a disappointment before it’s even really begun.

There are some really cheap tricks employed on the record – dialling back the lead guitar (which, incidentally used to be the closest thing to Mick Ronson since Mick Ronson) on the opening track in order to open up space for a chorus that seems to involve more wailing than screaming, or blatantly stealing the riff from Tenacious D’s ‘Wonderboy’ on ‘Sometimes I Feel I’ll Float Away’ – definitely a low point of both the album and the band’s career.

It’s strange that this album should be such a let-down. With all the great Britpop legends — including Pulp, Blur and Shed Seven — returning (and Oasis finally giving up the rather pathetic ghost), you’d think there’d be no better time for Suede to strut their stuff onstage. Perhaps they’re embarrassed about their age, no longer able to play the agent provocateur (hasn’t stopped Uncle Jarvis), but that really is no excuse. They’ve lost their raison d’etre, lost their mojo, and lost their relevance.

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Bloodsports is fundamentally a decent album, but you should really expect more from Suede. If we’re measuring this relative to their past output, this is a piss-poor effort.