Suede, ‘Bloodsports’ – Album Review
Since their inception in 1989, Suede have seen more than their share of changes. They've watched as Britpop and band members have come and gone and musical identifiers have been foisted upon them that weren't entirely correct. They even weathered a lawsuit that forced an official name change to the London Suede. But one thing Suede can be counted on is putting out fantastically flashy albums, regardless of their outside circumstances, and fortunately for us, 'Bloodsports,' an album that drives home the band's resilience, continues this trend.
True to its name, 'Bloodsports' is a no-holds-barred record that retains its might all the way through. The second track, 'Snowblind,' is a radio-ready nugget that features traces of early Police, while 'It Starts and Ends with You' is a gorgeous, blustery yet vulnerable anthem that has enough swagger to take on an arena. (The lyric "too much is not enough" encapsulates the band's overall philosophy nicely.) And when you're a band that's earned your swagger like Suede have, really, you might as well strut.
On 'Bloodsports,' they strut for all its worth, and the boastful 'Hit Me,' a peacocking challenge to "hit me with your majesty," is arguably the disc's finest track. Suede are at their best when the manage to go over the top without resorting to full-on bombast, and they know it.
Momentum builds on 'Sometimes I Feel I'll Float Away,' a track that begins with deceptively soft strains and eventually reaches a tumultuous yet controlled crescendo. The band excels at channeling energy, and they're hardly amateurs in teasing out what they want listeners to feel. Never let it be said that Suede don't know what they're doing; they're more than proficient at manipulating listeners' heartstrings without actually being manipulative.
Indeed, the building (and falling) of momentum appears to be a theme of 'Bloodsports.' For this reason, it's surprising when things lag ever so slightly toward the end, as 'Always' and 'Faultlines' don't quite have the drive that characterizes the rest of the album. That's no major knock, though; this ain't Suede's first rodeo, and as a whole, they deliver the kind of energy they're famous for.
Suede have always tended to carve their own path and leave behind a gilded wake, and that they do so without sounding dated is no easy feat. Luckily, by the time 'Bloodsports' has run its course, there's nothing ephemeral about what's left gleaming.