20 Years Ago: Suede Silences Doubters With ‘Coming Up’
During the sessions for 1994's Dog Man Star, Bernard Butler quit Suede. Naturally, there were questions about whether or not they could be the same without their guitarist, who composed the band's music. They were answered on Sept. 2, 1996 with the release of Coming Up.
Most of the songs on Coming Up were co-written by singer Brett Anderson and new guitarist Richard Oakes, who proved himself a formidable companion for Anderson's writing style. Keyboardist Neil Codling wrote the music for two songs and Anderson wrote a couple on his own. "It was much more of a band effort," Anderson told an interviewer upon its release. "We wanted to get the feeling of the band really working again."
As for Butler's leaving the group, Anderson knew the band would carry on. "I didn't see it as a full stop at all," he said. "I didn't see it as serious as most people have seen it. I saw it as definitely a real problem, yeah, but I always thought Suede had a life to it, and one person leaving wasn't going to ditch that."
The album kicks off with "Trash," a perfect pop song, equal parts classic glam and '96 Britpop. "Filmstar" spits out spark and attitude while "Lazy" continues to show off the band's recharged vigor, and stands as one of the albums catchiest tunes. "Saturday Night" ends the album in perfect drama and elegance. It's not surprising given the era, that five of the songs from Coming Up were released as singles. What may be surprising is that all five landed in the U.K. Top 10, with "Trash" reaching the highest at No. 3. The album hit No. 1 in the U.K. and received generally solid reviews worldwide.
The cover art was done by Peter Saville, who made a name doing much of the art for Factory Records during its rise to prominence. Since its release it has gained more respect as a key piece of the Suede story. From start to finish, the album flows like a classic, and shines among the band's finest work.
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