Suede were one of the pioneering bands of the Britpop era, combining sex, glamour, style and seediness with unmistakeable pop hooks. Singles is their first best-of collection, gathering together era-defining tracks such as "Metal Mickey", "Animal Nitrate", "Trash" and "The Beautiful Ones", as well as the brand new single "Attitude".
As this greatest hits-style collection--unglamourously entitled Singles--serves to prove, Suede were fashionably wasted and seedily sexy wretches years before catwalk pundits had even coined the phrase "heroin chic". Irrefutably the first great British band of the 1990s (they were, somewhat unwisely, dubbed "the new Smiths"), Suede stepped out from the despondent, suffocating shadow of moping American grunge with a head full of Ziggy Stardust and a hedonistic agenda of urban escapism, casual intercourse, recreational chemistry thrills and the sort of shoestring decadence that still makes the likes of "So Young" ("Let's chase the dragon" shrieked Brett Anderson) and "Animal Nitrate" the musical equivalent of promenading in a fur coat purchased from a charity shop. It was almost too good to last.
The ironically titled "Stay Together" (why not the full eight minute version?) was more grandiose in design but the mysterious union between Brett Anderson and furry-toned guitar maestro Bernard Butler was on the rocks and their marriage dissolved over the choice of mixer for the classic Dog Man Star, herein represented by the anthemic "We Are the Pigs", "New Generation" and "The Wild Ones". Guitar-slinging Poole Grammar school pupil Richard Oakes stepped into the breach and Suede became even more complicit with the charts via such brazen glam-pop stompers as "Trash" and "Electricity". Lately, though, Brett Anderson sounds more like an observer of rather than a participant in the pharmaceutically-addled underbelly of back-street British suburbia. The two exclusive new songs are slightly underwhelming ("Love the Way You Love" sounds like a Phil Oakey comeback) but every dog has its day and Suede have, with every justification, already earned their place in history. --Kevin Maidment
Singles charts Suede's rise from mesmerising indie newcomers to guitar-pop veterans - and demonstrates that the band have always been one step ahead of the competition.
In 1992, Melody Maker proclaimed Suede "The Best New Band in Britain". At that point the band hadn't even released an album. Heck, they hadn't even released a single! Now, it wasn't the first time the music press had got a little bit over-excited about a band, and it certainly won't be the last - but how many of those bands are still going strong 11 years down the line? Not many, that's for sure. Suede aren't your average band, as this Singles anthology testifies.
There are some quite brilliant tunes here; "Beautiful Ones", "Animal Nitrate", "Trash", "The Wild Ones". The list goes on, in fact this album sounds like an authoritative lesson in how to release singles. From the very first, "The Drowners" (released in 1992) to current single "Attitude", Suede's chart offerings have always oozed a kind of sexy suburban charm.
Lyrically, there's not a lot to get excited about; mainly sex, fashion, and suburbia, but this does create a cohesion that's often lacking in compilations such as these. That's not to say that Suede's music hasn't evolved over the years. On the contrary. New tracks "Love The Way You Love" and the aforementioned "Attitude" sound like a band in full creative flight, exploring new ideas, and looking to the future.
Too often bands release compilations that don't really reflect the quality of the material they're picked from (Manic Street Preachers, take note). By releasing Singles Suede have done exactly the opposite. Reminding us how great they were, how great they still are, and promising greatness yet to come. What more could you possibly ask for? --Simon Fernand
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