Suede reclaimed

The best ever!
By DAVID THORPE  |  June 16, 2011

sude main

It's an emotional time for the few surviving members of the Teenage Anglophiles-of-the-'90s club. Most of us died of gradual withering shame as we watched our pop heroes dwindle into irrelevance, terrible solo careers, even worse reunions, and animated multimedia hip-hop projects. But now, finally, we're poised for our great critical vindication: Suede's first two albums, Suede and Dog Man Star, are getting their well-deserved deluxe reissues, and the reviews are saying what we've tried in vain to convince our long-suffering girlfriends of all along: they're the two best albums ever, of all time, by anyone.

Well, okay, the reviews aren't quite saying that, but "Best New Reissue" accolades from Pitchfork and lavish praise elsewhere might finally convince the domestic hipster element that there was more to '90s UK indie than Parklife and Noelrock(1). Meanwhile, prominent Brit music site Drowned in Sound awarded Suede a stunning 10 out of 10(2), and the Guardian and NME are whispering that Suede, and especially Dog Man Star, may be due for inclusion in the canon of rock masterpieces (3).

I never thought I'd see the day: Suede was the teenage guilty pleasure I could never quite shake, and they're actually slightly cool again. Batten down the hatches, 'cause I might get a little gloaty on this one. All the jerks who justifiably made fun of me for liking Suede can eat it — yes, I unironically enjoy the glam-rock records of a bunch of flouncing English ninnies led by an imperious fop who sings about the occasional butt stuff. And now Pitchfork is giving their records scores approaching Animal Collective levels! Ha! I liked this shit before it was okay! I was ahead of the curve! I was right all along! History has vindicated my ridiculous taste!

Unfortunately, my moment in the sun won't last long. In the next few weeks, Suede's critical standing might come crashing back to earth. Guitarist and resident genius Bernard Butler left the band near the end of the Dog Man Star sessions, and subsequent albums were characterized by the audible suck of his absence. Tragically, Suede will reissue each miserable one of them, possibly destroying their shot at immortality all over again.

Coming Up (1996) was Suede's biggest UK hit, though more for its zeitgeisty popness than for any real quality. It's a decent record and it features some fun Britpop singles, but so does a fucking Kula Shaker album. After that came Head Music, an incoherent romp through singer Brett Anderson's spectacular crack addiction (sample lyric: "She live in a house/she stupid as a mouse"). Last, there's A New Morning, a low-wattage fizzle-out that put a merciful end to their increasingly embarrassing career. Even the biggest Suede fan in the world — which is Phoenix music editor Michael Marotta, for the record — would have to choke back tears of pure barf to buy that one twice. Shit, I'd resent having it in my house even if it were propping up a wobbly table leg.

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