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Monday, June 13, 2005

Here Come The Tears

When Suede called it a day a couple years ago, it was almost a relief. I had watched one of my favorite bands go from creating huge, dark soundscapes filled with atmospheric dread teamed with lyrics from singer Brett Anderson about smack, sex and isolation, to recording chirpy songs titled “Positivity” with no irony whatsoever. This shift in attitude can be traced to one event in Suede’s history – the departure of guitarist/co-founder Bernard Butler after the band recorded its second and best album, “Dog Man Star”. After Bernard left, it was gloss pop city.

That’s why, after Suede broke up, I was excited to hear that Brett and Bernard mended fences and were writing together again. However, Suede was not returning…instead, they would be called The Tears, complete with a new backing band. Hmmm.

The Tears

The first Tears single, “Refugees” was merely okay. It sounded more like mid-career Suede than the early, superior stuff, but at least it wasn’t awful like the last Suede album. Last week, the entire album, “Here Come the Tears” dropped in the UK (no U.S. release is slated anytime soon – don’t hold your breath – the last Suede CD wasn’t even released here), and it’s half bad.

It’s also half good.

The bad:

• Brett’s still singing in the lower register he adopted after kicking drugs. He’s become the Mariah Carey of Britpop, a shadow of his former voice. Boo.

• The lyrics – oy, the lyrics. “You taste like orange chocolate / you put your hands in my pockets” he sings on “Imperfection,” a song about, of course, how his partner’s imperfections are beautiful regardless. Ick.

• Not enough Bernard is showing. I find it telling that Bernard is listed as “Producer,” while Brett is listed as “Executive Producer.” Hmm. The album sounds like it was recorded from two rooms over via a tin can and some nylon string. Awful.

The good:

• When the tempos slow and the mood is heightened, The Tears hit some of the glory of Suede’s best moments. The strings, the strange, wiggly guitar sounds, they show up here and there…just not enough.

• After sludging through 11 songs, The Tears finally hit one out of the park with “Apollo 13,” a fantastic ballad that could have come off of “Dog Man Star”. Check out the blistering solo during the final 1:30 of the song…goosebumps central.

Verdict: Worth buying and it might be a grower. There’s potential here, if these guys can keep it together. I’ll be interested in seeing how the upcoming b-sides sound – that’s where Suede used to blow everyone away, tucking their truly epic tunes away as extra tracks on CD singles. I don’t want to say it’d be nice if Brett got back on drugs, but…well, it’d be nice.

Download “Apollo 13”.

Fine Folks

"...and by hubris, I mean overweening pride!" - Johnny's Greatest Hits

25 Year Loop
Fucking Woof
David Live
The Night Before
Jobriath Was First
She's in Parties
She's in Parties Pt. 2
Tales From the Dragon Club
Tales From the Dragon Club Pt. 2
Okay, California...You Win
How to Sell Used CDs

Previously on "Johnny Is a Man"...

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