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Friday, April 30, 1999 Published at 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK


Entertainment: New Music Releases

CD Review: Suede

Suede: Head Music (Nude)

By the BBC's Chris Charles

In these anonymous days of beats per minute, samples and sugar-candy pop, the shortage of good old-fashioned rock'n'roll stars is reaching crisis point.

The faceless men and women are on a mission to rip the heart and soul out of modern music and the world is crying out for a saviour.

Step forward Brett Anderson and take a well-deserved bow.

This is the man who's managed to successfully wriggle out of his Bowie snake skin, overcome the loss of his right-hand man, gone 12 rounds with Damon Albarn and still come up smelling of roses, albeit black ones.

It's been six years since Suede's unstoppable eponymous debut but make no mistake, Head Music is every bit as important, every bit as significant. Coming Up gave us a succulent taste of what was to come and if you enjoyed the hors d'oeuvres, you''ll positively pig out on the main dish.

Emphasis on electronica

Take the single Electricity - a guitar-charged pop song with echoes of Hendrix that should have hogged the top spot for weeks. Proof indeed that the courtship with the baby-faced Rochard Oakes has blossomed into a healthy, happy marriage.

Then there's the spooky Savoir Faire, described by Brett as his favourite-ever Suede song. Futuristic, funky, cold and aloof, it talks of a woman who "lives in a house, she's as stupid as a mouse". The effective tin can vocals are a testament to Perfecto producer Steve Osborne (Happy Mondays) who opens up his bag of tricks to give the album that extra edge and move it on from the Suede of old.

The emphasis placed on synths and all things electronica revives memories of Tubeway Army and early Human League at times, although the Suede identity is kept firmly in focus throughout.

The buzz of uncertainty that surrounds the whole album is so great that it's almost too much to bear, but like a gripping thriller, you just can't put it down.

When Brett talks of the White City in Hi-Fi, grim images of Blade Runner and A Clockwork Orange immediately spring to mind, yet still you are compelled to take another tentative step.

Soundtrack for the future

Asbestos, with its trumpets and ska leanings, is about as eerie as it gets. On Can't Get Enough, Brett is "schizo, ever so pyscho", on the Roxy Music-esque Down he's in the bottomless, post-drugs binge pit ("the ambulances sight that you're down") and Indian Strings sees him simply heart-broken.

OK, you may ask, Brett's wittering on about love and sex and drugs, so what's new? And you'd be right, to an extent. The difference here, though, is that all the pieces of the jigsaw are in the right place.

Head Music (which incidentally is about as ambiguous as Ebeneezer Goode) is the soundtrack for the future performed by artists in tune with one another.

The spirit of rock'n'roll lives to fight another day.



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