he shock of the new is the shock of rediscovering the familiar.’ Did someone really clever not once say that? Perhaps I made it up. Anyway, it seems like an appropriate way to introduce Suede, the band who tagged the ‘extra’ on to ‘ordinary’.
In a so-far barren year for the Great Pop Single, Suede are an audacious knee to the groin. Their two efforts to date, ‘The Drowners’ and current hit ‘Metal Mickey’. are especially fine examples of upfront, unapologetic, inventive guitar p0p with hooklines to swing a mammoth on and enough meat on their bones to satiate with
more than an instant delicious thrill. l
Guitarist Bernard seems to have this ' congenital capacity to invest a familiar riff with exotic vigour.
‘I think we’re an idea with a nice handle,’ elaborates vocalist Brett Anderson, the man who could put emaciation, girly blouses and bottom-slapping back on the musical agenda in a big way. ‘People can get hold of us quite easily, but I think once they do there’s a lot more there than they maybe thought in the ﬁrst place, and after a bit our depth will grow as our persona grows.
‘We’re strong believers in the importance and power ofthe single. It’s your public statement to the world and if you put a good single out everyone gets interested and you get press and the machinery just starts to work.’
Misanthropes hiss that you’ve had it all on a plate. ‘We haven’t just sprung out of nothing,’ he protests. ‘You can’t really do it — be successful and be incredibly new. It’s a very romantic, cinematic idea, isn’t it? Four guys buy some instruments in Denmark Street, walk down Carnaby Street, form a band and all of a sudden they’ve got a hit song. It just doesn’t happen like that. But anyone can get a few music paper covers and a few reviews. All you have to do is pull a few strings and use your brain a bit. The people that are really worthwhile are the people that last five years and achieve a status where they’re a commanding,
' unstoppable force.
‘The first songs we wrote were absolutely atrocious and the lyrics were completely trite and awful. We’ve always known what
Brett Anderson, the man who could put emaciation, girly blouses and bottom-slapping back on the musical agenda in a big way.
we wanted to do and that we weren’t good enough at the time, but that eventually we would be. We’ve got enough faith in what we’re going to doin the future, so when i we’re not flavour-of-the-month next year it won’t matter at all. You can’t always be media darlings, you know.’
Really there’s too much to be said now, too much food for thought even at this early stage to accommodate speculation over where they’ll be in a year’s time. Right from the off , Suede have exuded personality. How many bands can you think of who, by the release of just their second single, have forged such a striking identity that their characteristics can be amplified in a comic
strip? Melody Maker’s ‘The Masked Man
The latest pretenders to the throne in the Kingdom of Perfect Pop are a band of Cockney heart-breakers with two singles and a cartoon strip to their name. Fiona Shepherd tunes in to the technicolour
thrill of SUEDE.
Versus The Dandy Man’ featured Brett and minions mincing around London sewer territory planning a world domination enterprise that revolved round universal Cockney vocal affectations.
‘That was a big mistake actually,’ laments Brett. Nevertheless, they had a point. Like Blur before them, Suede enshrine ‘all the love and poison of London’ (a line from ‘Metal Mickey’ B-side ‘He’s Dead’) without succumbing to parody, and Brett himself embodies the cockney heartbreaker archetype. IfJoe Orton’s Mr Sloane required an understudy . . .
But Suede do more than celebrate their environment. In their own way they are as escapist as the shoegazing coterie — it’s just that their ﬂight from an oppressively comfy upbringing has been extrovert rather than introspective. Then you make out the lyrics and they’re . . . well, sorry to be so predictably banal, but they’re about life, my friend. Even ifit is life filtered through a wonky colander. You know exactly what they mean, but equally that you could never express it from such a fertile, arcane perspective.
‘It‘s a regurgitation of a well-worn phrase, but I think we’re what people have been desperate to hear for quite a while,’ Brett asserts. ‘The public are shit-bored of EPs and dull, elitist independent music and they want something with a bit of breadth. They want a certain amount of personality back in music.
‘I’m a great fan of certain elements of
art-rock — Robert Wyatt, Brian Eno and stuff like that — but ultimately I’ll never lie on my bed at a crisis point in my life listening to it ’cos it won’t actually mean anything to me, it’s a trapping. But I would listen to David Bowie or The Beatles. That’s the music that really gets you in the innards and I think there’s a certain element to our music which does actually connect with people’s mtenors.’
IfSuede were a type of film, they’d be a garish, technicolour experiment, not some 605 kitchen-sink drama. That’s where the connection comes from — they don’t want to mirror what you already know, they want to nudge you to some more challenging conclusion. An attitude perfectly encapsulated by the slo-mo swagger and ﬂamboyance of ‘Sleeping Pills’, the epic jewel in their live set. ‘Sleeping Pills’ is their next single. Brett promises ‘a bit ofa Mantovani job’. You’ll ﬂip when you hear it.
As I write this, the sound ofJohn Barry engulfs the room in one extravagant, panoramic sweep. It fits. Suede make you want to cast off the shackles of decorum, display that hairfree torso/protruding ribcage under your new brocade blouse and join Bernard Butler in an empathetic bum-wiggle. The looks and the lifestyle. Or as Suede might express it, interior decoration.
Suede, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow, M0n5 Oct; and The Venue, Edinburgh, Tue 6 Oct.
The List 25 September — 8 October 1992 9