Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Suede : A Musical Obsession.

If you have ever found yourself under the mesmerising spell of an artist or band; caught in a limbo world where no other music but that of said musicians is of any interest to you, where you can think of no better way to spend your time than pouring through as many interviews and trivia bites as you can feast your eyes on, flicking through youtube videos and absorbing all such information with as much ease as a newly purchased sponge, then I look to you for understanding and empathy; as this is exactly how I feel about Suede right now.

It hits you almost like a fever; unexpected and unexplainable in its approach, you just wake up one day and find that it has wrapped its merciless fingers around your whole body, and there is little you can do but ride the wave to its natural conclusion. As an obsessive with an obsession for music, this is a pattern that I have dealt with on several occasions before, however there is no telling for how long I will be inflicted with a disease which has seen my requirements for oxygen usurped by the need to hear Dog Man Star on indefinite repeat.

Anyone who has ridden the musical fixation rollercoaster can tell you that, despite its ability to overrule all rational thought, and overspill into various aspects of your life – it is not an unpleasant experience; in fact it is an absolutely fantastic feeling, of which every second is rich with appreciation. Music never sounds as good as when you are in the throes of irrational obsession, and you can wave goodbye to any difficult decisions regarding what to listen to on your ipod, or indeed; what to write about on your blog.

Perhaps at this point I should address the band over which I am so shamelessly gushing, and in doing so, acknowledge how unlikely and random a candidate they really are, however I struggle to know where to begin with Suede. Victims of a bizarre and unjust turn of events, whereby they were seemingly ousted from the Britpop movement for not complying to the laddish, boozing, fake-working-class checklist, despite the fact that they themselves kick-started the subgenre, but in turn expressed no desire to be associated with what it went on to embody. The hype surrounding Suede’s emergence in 1992 was truly extensive, with Melody Maker proudly adorning their front cover with the words “Suede: the best new band in Britain” and the following year, the Brit Awards shuffled around their schedule in order to afford them a last-minute slot at the ceremony as a direct response to pressures from the music press – all before an album had even been released. With so much hype surrounding them, it would have been easy to disappoint or fall victim to overzealous critics, however their first self-titled album was an enormous critical and commercial success subsequently earning them a Mercury Music Prize in 1993, and then leading on to record – what I believe to be their true masterpiece – Dog Man Star in 1994. Despite a string of increasingly commercially successful albums throughout the 1990s before disbanding in 2003, Suede are rarely remembered and seldom played in 2011. This is a great shame, as they are truly brilliant and arguably the best and most interesting band of the 1990s – an achievement for which I hold their astoundingly fascinating frontman mainly accountable.

One look at Brett Anderson’s erotically charged, androgynous stage persona will quickly answer questions regarding why they didn’t fit in well with the overtly laddish overtones of peers such as Liam Gallagher and Damon Alburn. Incredibly charismatic and instantly fascinating, Anderson can be seen strutting the stage with a stereotypical feminine haircut, big silver hoops through his ears and a black lace top tied loosely around his slim and hairless torso, singing lines such as 'I want the style of a woman, the kiss of a man'; he certainly cuts a striking and controversial image. However, this is most effective due to the way in which Anderson conducts his androgyny; with such self-assurance and masculine gusto, proudly stalking the stage in the knowledge that he is twice the man that any jean-wearing guy swigging beer at a football match could ever be. It is no wonder that he managed to ruffle a few feathers in a time where shell-suits reigned supreme, and American grunge was topping the charts. While Suede’s absence from the common consciousness of today is a shame in part, I am not sorry that their songs haven’t received The Universal or Wonderwall treatment, and that their music can be enjoyed without being tarnished by advertising campaigns or being strummed by incompetent guitar players in parks and festivals across the country.

I would recommend the album Dog Man Star to anyone, as it really is a five-star album that can be enjoyed perfectly from start to finish. While Suede may not have been flying the flag for British optimism, Anderson’s observations of suburbia are accurate and representative of a generation who came of age during the perilous 1980s, delivered via his impressive and instantly recognisable vocals. Introducing The Band, New Generation and Black or Blue are particularly good at summing up the feelings of British disillusionment that Britpop was soon to gloss over with the resounding opening chords of Blur’s Parklife.

So I will continue to ride out my obsession with all things Suede and Brett Anderson, even to the extent of finding myself shaving the hair on the right side of my head in an attempt to adopt some of the latter into some visual aspects of my life, as well as having him provide the audio soundtrack to my every move. Their performance of Animal Nitrate at the Brit Awards in 1993 is one that I keep going back to, and something that I suggest you check out if you are at all interested in what it is that has sparked such infatuation with the band and their music. I have included it below, but be warned; musical obsession is contagious. 


  1. Fantastic read! I'm glad there are other Suede fans out there. Did you see any of their comeback gigs this year?

    If you're in London btw, they play lots of Suede here: www.facebook.com/LipglossClub

  2. Thanks very much indeed! Ahh, as for the comeback gigs, unfortunately I've just had to make do with what I've seen on youtube...would've absolutely loved to have been there though - hopefully next time!

    Wow, thanks for that. The playlist at Lipgloss Club sounds absolutely incredible! I will have definitely have to go there at some point. I wish more places played that kind of music x


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