11 October 2018
Suede - The Blue Hour
When it comes to Brit-pop bands, one of the first names that will come to mind to most UK fans is Suede (aka The London Suede to our US readers). Their iconic status has been long assured with their first three albums. I could wax lyrical about what they've achieved, the mistakes along the way and their reunion. But this is not a retro piece about their career. This is a review of their latest album, The Blue Hour. Recorded with legendary producer Alan Moulder (marking their second departure from the services of Ed Buller), this album was first muted in 2017, so it's had a long and meticulous creation. Preceded by four singles, Suede have been building the anticipation of this album slowly and surely.
The Blue Hour has taken the style of Night Thoughts (their last album, our review linked here) and ran wild with it. Well, in a given sense of the phrase "ran wild". This is the new, mature and sombre Suede, and Suede weren't exactly the band you put on for happy times in the first place. On The Blue Hour though, Suede have taken those feelings regarding the dark points of the night, ramps up the emotive dialogue and adds a cinematic sheen to them. Just over fifty minutes long, composed of 14 songs, there is a mixture of hard-hitting indie that we've come to expect, spoken word performances, the beautiful sounds of the London based City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and the band themselves.
The album has many highlights, such as the glorious combination of "Tides" and "Don't Be Afraid If Nobody Loves You". Those two tracks alone are classic Suede, I mean it's Dog Man Star level compositions from Suede at that point. I get stuck on these two and the world fades away for a few moments. Other stand out moments include the guitar centred "Cold Hands", the sweeping cinematic "Wastelands" and the beautiful ending "Flytipping". Each of track attempts to showcase this incarnation of Suede perfectly. These songs play to their strengths and hide their weaknesses, which is a very good thing.
Now, I did mention weaknesses there. Which is something that The Blue Hour sadly contains. It's one of their biggest weaknesses overall, everything is just so epic here. Let me explain - I am a fan of Suede and I do like this album, I think it'll be one that people will discuss and dissect for a long time. But they've never really been too good at subtle, have they? I mean, even back in the early day on a deep cut like "The Living Dead" they had that dramatic flair. On The Blue Hour, they ramped it up to the nth degree, there is no escaping it and it can be claustrophobic at times. Because of this, I've found it difficult to love. I admire The Blue Hour a lot, it's a decent album and I applaud Suede for following their own style. But they've gone too far once again, they've not stopped when they could have held back a little. Maybe next time, tone it down slightly?
6.5 out of ten - Now, I see where you were going, but it's not quite there.
Top track - Don't Be Afraid If Nobody Loves You
You can purchase The Blue Hour on Amazon here.
You can visit the Suede website here.
You can follow the activities of Suede on Facebook here.
You can stream The Blue Hour on Spotify here.
You can stream The Blue Hour on Deezer here.
You can stream The Blue Hour on Tidal here.
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