's Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler are back together again. No surprise to Bernard: "I always knew sooner or later it would happen," he says. And Brett too, for his part, seemed in the end to almost hasten the demise of Suede that he might meet up with Bernard and pop the question no-one else had ever dared form in their heads for the past 10 years.
"The first time we met [again] in December 2003, he said he wanted to form a band," says Bernard. "Obviously, for years, I'd always wanted make the record." And so they began, the best British song-writing duo since Morrissey and Marr, working together once again, writing with no particular aim in sight. Only later did they realise they were really onto something, something they had left undone in 1994, when Bernard walked out of Suede ahead of the release of their second album, Dog Man Star. Slowly, yet inexorably, Here Come The Tears came to be a shared labour of love; the thing that would define the year for both Brett and Bernard. "The music is really, really inspiring," says Brett. "I don't want to get dewy-eyed, but it's so exciting to work with someone who cares so much about it. For years and years after Bernard left Suede it was me running the show, but now the stakes are raised. I feel like we are duelling with each other, in some kind of friendly competition. When we were at our best it was always like that, each trying to better each other."
From the outside Here Comes The Tears certainly feels like a work high on confidence, and performed by people at the peak of their artistic powers. Brett's voice is stunning as never before the little break in "Two Creatures", the exquisite and moving swoops of "Fallen Idol" while Bernard simply plays guitar like no-one else alive. "When we first started Suede I wanted it to be like The Smiths, where the records were ethereal and complex and overdubbed, but the live show was just one big electric guitar ringing out," says Bernard. "I've not had either of those platforms for years." Here he plays like a man on a mission to show us everything we've been missing. A number of songs mesmerise with the chiming, complex simplicity of Bernard's guitars. At the album's centre, the dark and troubled "Brave New Century" features amazing arcs of guitar that alternately slice through the speakers and crash around your ears like so much falling masonry. Elsewhere, on the wonderfully epic "Apollo 13", the simple swaying waltz of the early verses is lifted into high orbit by the rocket trajectories of Bernard's symphonies of guitar, which call to mind nothing so much as slow-motion fireworks bursting elaborately overhead, complete with suitably awed oohs and aahs.
Largely, though, Here Come The Tears is dominated by pop songs; brazen and beautiful pop songs, delivered in perfectly formed packages. Opening track and first single, "Refugees" is swaggering, instant and majestic, and at 2'54" so brief you need to blast it again as soon as it's over.
Here Come The Tears was produced by Bernard and largely recorded at home. For him making this record as he wanted to make it was a huge part of a long healing process. "When all that [being in and leaving Suede] happens to you when you're 22/23, you don't deal with it," he says. "I hated everyone and everything, and felt confused all the time. I couldn't see through the things I wanted to do." Now, however, Bernard has been able to intricately build songs according to the grand vision in his head, and the result is an astonishing wall of sound that at times feels like Spector producing the Spiders From Mars covering "Bridge Over Troubled Water", only bigger.
The Tears are Brett Anderson (vocals), Bernard Butler (guitar), Nathan Fisher (bass), Makoto Sakamoto (drums) and Will Foster (keyboards).
The title might suit the aura of faltering romanticism but Here Comes The Tears
will offer nothing but a happy ending for Suede
disciples who once mourned the avoidable loss of a glorious future. Unarguably one of British rock musics most eminent severed alliances, low-rent hedonist Brett Anderson and recalcitrant guitar deity Bernard Butler permanently parted company during the fractious recording sessions for 1994s smouldering masterpiece Dog Man Star
. Like Strummer and Jones, Lennon and McCartney and Morrissey and Marr, the Anderson Butler union belongs to a distinguished line of brilliant but volatile songwriting partnerships acrimoniously (and often prematurely) ripped apart under exacting circumstances. Finally, the estranged pair conclude their dignified silence and pick up the torch where the aspirational Dog Man Star
adjourned a generation ago. Naturally, Here Comes The Tears
- while not attempting to atone for any might-have-beens - sounds instinctively like the best record Suede or the solo Bernard Butler never made and duly rewards by attaining some kind of ego-balancing equilibrium between the chemical rush of Andersons decadent glam pop expression ("Lovers", "Refugees") and Butlers more stately and wide-angle production landscapes. Modesty being a virtue, its interesting to contrast the elephantine brass bombast of Dog Man Star
s (admittedly wonderful) finale "Still Life" with the manner in which "A Love As Strong As Death" asserts its grandiosity with a reticent mulling of harp, piano and Hawaiian guitar. Theres simply too much genius here to mention but "Beautiful Pain" (cold turkey agony with a truly euphoric pop chorus) and the refracting, rain-soaked atmospherics of "The Asylum" simply beg acquaintance. A stunning comeback. --Kevin Maidment