Think of an unlikely event. Osama Bin Laden and George Bush shaking hands on the lawn of the White House? Overhearing someone say “you know that Crazy Frog? It’s really great isn’t it?”. Liverpool coming back from a 3-0 half-time score to beat AC Milan and win the European Cup (hang on, you can scratch that one now…).
A couple of years ago, the reunion of Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler would have ranked up there with impossible dreams. The last we heard of them was Suede‘s Dog Man Star album in 1994, a wonderful, sweeping epic that was rather overshadowed by the so-called Battle Of Britpop. The split was acrimonious and there seemed more likelihood of Ian Brown and John Squire working together than there was of Brett and Bernard getting back.
After Suede’s split though, the two reconciled and now we have The Tears who nicely answer the question “what if Bernard had stayed?”. For Here Come The Tears sounds like the best album that Suede never made, full of romantic, smouldering pop songs with a soaring depth to them. The creative tension that made the first two Suede albums so good is obviously still there in spades.
There are several songs here that could easily join Refugees as potential singles. Lovers, Autograph and Beautiful Pain are all instantly likeable gems, enlivening by some awe-inspiring guitar work from Butler and given an epic scope by other band members Will Foster, Nathan Fisher and Makoto Sakamoto. Anderson also sounds reinvigorated, with his voice sounding stronger than it has done for years. The rather reedy, nasal vocals of the Head Music and A New Morning albums appear to have thankfully disappeared.
Lyrically, Anderson has improved as well. Whereas one time it was possible to play a drinking game based on how many times Brett mentioned ‘nuclear’, ‘asphalt’, and ‘moonlit sky’, now he’s moved onto more substantial topics. There’s even political comment in the stunning Brave New Century, which bitterly describes an England where “people spit on refugees” and “worship shit celebrities” while Butler’s guitar launches into ever more phenomenal riffs.
OK, he still comes out with the odd clunker such as the otherwise excellent Two Creatures risible “we’ll go where the crowds don’t stare/and no one hates us for our hair”, but there’s also the touching Imperfection, a tribute to a lover’s flaws and Co-Star, which could really be the album’s signature tune (“when we’re together, the world smiles”).
The more Here Come The Tears is listened to, the more impressive it reveals itself to be. The closing two tracks, Apollo 13 and A Love As Strong As Death almost match Dog Man Star’s The Asphalt World/Still Life double whammy, the former being a particularly breathtaking piece of work. Even better, the best appears yet to come, as anyone who has seen their live show will attest to – fans favourite Europe After The Rain is nowhere to be seen, and obviously being saved for the follow up.
That sense of unfulfilled potential is now gone and Anderson and Butler can reclaim their position as one of the country’s great songwriting teams. Here Come The Tears is a real treat – hopefully they can stay together for more than two albums this time.