Posted in Listed

10 Favourite Songs of 2022

10. Yard Act – The Overload: I came across this track through Cillian Murphy’s recommendation on his excellent BBC podcast. The band from Leeds mixes several different genres and on the title track of their debut album, really nail their outsider status with a few pop hooks.

9. Wet Leg – Angelica: The duo from the Isle of Wight saved one of the best tracks from their debut album for a 2022 release. The energetic track really takes off when the drums explode as they sing of Angelica going to a party. Another slice of indie rock perfection from the breakout act of 2022.

8. Taylor Swift (Feat. Lana Del Rey) – Snow On The Beach: A highlight from the Swift’s highly successful Midnights album was her collaboration with Lana Del Rey. While Lana is used sparingly, she adds a bit of texture to a song that would not sound out of place on either of their albums. Hopefully this is just the first of many tracks the two work on together.

7. Tears For Fears – Long, Long, Long Time: Curt Smith takes over the vocals on this midtempo track that adds Carina Round in the chorus. Smith turns in an excellent vocal performance over a bed of shimmering synths and electronic beats. The track is one of several highlights from their very good album, The Tipping Point.

6. Fontaines D.C. – I Love You: The moody track was the second song released from the band’s very good third album, Skinty Fia. It’s a hauntingly atmospheric track that really suits singer Grian Chatten’s deadpan delivery. The love song to Dublin is like one from beyond the grave.

5. Lightning Seeds – Great To Be Alive: This jangly piece of indie pop was the first song that many had heard from Ian Broudie in several years. The upbeat track was an unusual slice of sunshine in an otherwise hard slog for many people that was 2022. Co-written with James Skelly from The Coral, it is never anything than uplifting.

4. Liam Gallagher – Moscow Rules: The third Gallagher solo album had several bangers and highlights. “Moscow Rules”, co-written with Ezra Koenig from Vampire Weekend, was more understated. The atmospheric track sees Liam turn in a very good vocal performance that gets amped up in the chorus as soon as the drum kicks in. With songs like this, the younger Gallagher can leave a few Oasis tunes off the setlist and add in more solo work.

3. Suede – She Still Leads Me On: Called their punk rock record, Suede released a very good album in Autofiction. One of the highlights was the first track about singer Brett Anderson’s complicated relationship with his mother. To hear him sing with this much passion about something so personal was awe inspiring as the band rocks behind him. Excellent stuff from the legendary band.

2. Beach House – Only You Know: One of the highlights from the second half of the excellent 2022 album from Beach House, “Only You Know” was never released as a single. The cascading synths match Victoria Legrand’s repeated vocals before the tumbling drums appear. A characteristically atmospheric track that easily glides along a celestial plane. The line, “every disaster comes faster and faster” is one of many that can get lodged in a listener’s head for days.

1. Taylor Swift – Anti-Hero: One of the biggest pop tracks of the year deserved all it’s attention. The inward looking track features several moments of clever wordplay that the internet would turn into many memes, specifically as Swift sings, “It’s me/hi/I’m the problem, it’s me”. That is followed by the devastating line, “I’ll stare directly at the sun but never in the mirror”. It’s something many of us could do more of in 2023. Nice work, Taylor!

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Posted in Album Reviews

Suede – Autofiction (2022)

In the 1990s, Suede brought much glamour to the Britpop scene. The band eschewed the lad culture of some of their contemporaries and often times made sweeping grand gestures. After 2002’s A New Morning, the band went on hiatus before releasing Bloodsports 11 years later. Since then, Suede Mach II has released three further albums including the latest Autofiction which by singer Brett Anderson’s accounts, is the band’s punk rock album.

The album starts with single, “She Still Leads Me On” and a scratchy guitar riff courtesy of Richard Oakes. Anderson manages to make a song about his mother anthemic with the line, “But I loved her with my last breath…”  “15 Again” blisters like a much younger band.  A couple of songs adopt a talk/singing style such as “Personality Disorder” and “Shadow Self”. Bass and drums powers “Black Ice” that is a bit more ramshackle than the band typically sounds as Anderson sings, “we’re on the black ice with no headlights”.

In typical Suede fashion, the word “petrol” appears a few times in the lyrics, but Anderson often paints beautiful images such as the “brief pale light on the bedroom walls” on “Personality Disorder”. A couple of songs such as “It’s Always the Quiet Ones” gets darker and takes on a bit of a goth feel but still bangs out a skyward reaching chorus. Produced by longtime associate Ed Buller, Autofiction is another fine addition to the Suede catalogue on an album that rocks harder than most other 30-year-old bands can muster.

8/10

Posted in Album Reviews

Suede – Suede 25th Anniversary Box (2018)

41UGF-IRwgL._AA327_QL65_In early 2018, Suede released the 25th Silver Anniversary edition of their classic debut s/t album.  Here it appears remastered with three additional discs of music + a DVD.  At the time Suede released their debut album in early 1993, it was the fastest selling debut in UK music history.  Famously appearing on the cover of Melody Maker magazine before releasing their first single, the build-up/hype through 1992 was palpable through the UK press.  There are many examples through history of the music press building the hype of a mediocre band just to tear them down again. This was not the case here.  A clutch of brilliant singles and a near flawless album saw Suede release great music through the mid-90s.

Led by songwriting duo Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler, Suede mixed the glamour of Bowie, the melancholy of every day life of The Smiths, and a punk-like energy.  Second single “Animal Nitrate” bristles with sexual violence with Anderson shouting “what does it take to turn you on?” as the track reaches its emotional apex before the handclaps appear to add a spark.  “Metal Mickey” reached #17 on the charts and was the band’s introduction to many teenagers.  The glam stomp lays the groundwork from where Anderson whoops and hollers through the verses and chorus.  “So Young” is a strong opening track mixing the anthemic with melancholy, featuring a piano interlude much to Butler’s chagrin but one that really adds to the track.

The melodrama is ratcheted up on “Sleeping Pills” inspired by housewives abusing valium with Anderson pleading, “don’t take those sleeping pills, it’s only time they kill”.  “Pantomime Horse” and “The Next Life” both feature Anderson’s dramatic vocal phrasing.  “Moving” and first single “The Drowners” spare no energy with the latter featuring a slowed down chorus.  Where the debut falters is on lesser tracks “Breakdown” and “Animal Lover”.  Those tracks aside, this is one of the best UK indie rock debuts ever and helped usher in the Britpop movement that would dominate British music over the next few years. (9/10)

Disc two features B-sides released during this time period.  “My Insatiable One” is one of the best tracks the band has ever done.  A classic pop rock melody makes it one of the most enduring songs in the Suede cannon. “To The Birds” is close to classic status as well.  Butler’s guitar with Simon Gilbert’s drumming cranks up the tension before Anderson sings of a possible suicide.  These two tracks should have appeared on the debut.  “Where the Pigs Fly”, “He’s Dead” and the lovely “High Rising” are all fine tracks before the excellent cover of The Pretenders’ “Brass In Pocket” appears to close out the disc. (8/10)

Enjoyment of disc three will depend on your love of “The Drowners” which appears three different times through the twenty tracks.   Featuring demos, monitor mixes and a BBC appearance; disc three is a bit of a mixed bag.  The songs are excellent but the versions are mostly similar versions to what appeared on official releases but with cheaper recording equipment.  The Mark Goodier BBC 1 sessions featured on this set catch the young band performing several tracks that would appear on the debut a year later. (7/10)

Disc four is a 1992 live concert from Sheffield’s historic venue, The Leadmill.  The audio is mostly terrible but energetic and amusingly captures snippets of the audience chatting.  Unless you were there, not much reason to listen to this more than once.  (5/10)  Along with TV appearances, the DVD features an hour-long interview with Anderson/Butler that offers insight into the recording of the tracks including B-sides.  Much contradictions of Anderson appears as Butler seems to have the better memory but great moments abound and it’s terrific seeing the two together, looking healthy and happy after hard living through the 90s. (7/10)

After reading about this boxset, I originally put my money down on the 2CD + 1DVD set that was released in 2011.  Unfortunately, that set arrived with a cracked case so had to be shipped back.  The music therein was amazing so I instead ordered this version when my refund appeared.  The 2011 version should be fine for most, especially at half the price, but if you have the money and are a fan of this era of Suede, this set is worth the extra expense.

Box Set – 8/10