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This review is from: A New Morning (Audio CD)Regularly dismissed by critics and group members alike, "A New Morning" enjoys little praise when Suede's career is assessed. Listening to this new expanded edition, this seems a bit unfair.
The recording was a protracted affair and by the time the album was released in 2002, Suede 2.1 had emerged with Neil Codling leaving due to illness (he still co-writes several songs present here) and Alex Lee coming aboard. The album is certainly very different from any of its predecessors; acoustic instruments are predominant and there is a tender, pastoral feel to the music - it's no surprise to find the group performing 2 different acoustic sets on the accompanying DVD. Shorn of the usual claustrophobic urban drama, this is the slow romantic afternoon of Suede's career. In fact, it's tempting to speculate that part of the reason for the lukewarm reception afforded to the album was the autumn release date - on a warm evening in June, "A New Morning" has a place it certainly couldn't inhabit in late September into October. However, the cost of this warming prettiness is a lack of edge; in fact, the main duds on the album - "Streetlife" and "One Hit To The Body" - are forced, unconvincing attempts to add some of the sharpness of Suede 2.0 to the album. A few songs also drift by a little too easily so it's no surprise that Brett Anderson omits several tracks in his alternate running order, replacing them with superior b-sides (of which there are many, suggesting the group developed too strong an idea of what kind of album they wanted to make, at the expense of some better songs). For this listener, this is a much more enjoyable album than "Head Music" - at bare minimum, they sound like a group again and there are plenty of delightful instrumental touches to enjoy. A packed b-sides disc also covers the last handful of recordings the group made to coincide with the "Singles" album issued the following year, including the odd, stompy single "Attitude". And that was that, the group finally collapsing in an exhausted heap at the end of 2003.
It would be wrong to suggest that "A New Morning" is a lost classic but it is unfairly dismissed and there is plenty of beautiful music to be had in this edition. With the group continuing to tour and admitting that they are toying with new material, the prospect that this may not be their swansong after all is an enticing one. If Suede enjoy another new morning, it's to be hoped that the lessons of this one have been learned. Let's see.