- 10 Apr 01
SUEDE : “Dog Man Star” (Nude)
SUEDE : “Dog Man Star” (Nude)
“THAT DIFFICULT second album, me eye!” screams the press release and for once those P.R. johnnies have hit the hammer right on the proverbial. While the Stone Roses have laboured for four years to produce, well, nothing, our floppy-fringed friends have dashed-out a record that finally makes sense of all the hype that greeted their entry into this fab pop world we inhabit.
There’s now’t wrong per se with being derivative but Suede’s debut offering adhered so slavishly to Bowie’s androgynous glam blueprint that they might as well have dropped the pretence and called themselves Jean Geanie. This time round, Brett has rationed the Newley-isms and though still suffering from a severe identity crisis, extended his schizophrenia to take in Ian Hunter and – pause for a spot of reverence here – Scott Walker.
Nowhere is the spectre of Mr. Engels so prevalent as on ‘The Wild One’, a gloriously overblown ballad which camps and preens and generally revels in its own sense of kitsch majesty. In fact, old-fashioned let’s-shovel-it-on-with-a-spade melodrama lies at the heart of most of Dog Man Star’s finer moments.
‘Introducing The Band’ – which Brian Eno has just turned into 16-minutes of ambient weirdness for a B-side – veers towards the avant garde; ‘Daddy’s Speeding’ is for the James Dean in all of us; and ‘The Power’ sounds like something Barry White and the Love Unlimited Orchestra might have come up with if old Walrus features had been born in Battersea rather than Philadelphia.
Now that you know what to expect, Brett’s lyrical pretentiousness has become strangely endearing. “There was a girl who flew the world from a lonely shore/ Through southern snow to Heathrow to understand the law” may make less sense than a pissed Mr. Blobby but when enunciated in those marvellously foppish tones, helps ‘Black And Blue’ on its way to becoming a song of rare eloquence and beauty.
There are occasions, though, when you want to string Anderson up from the nearest lamp-post. ‘Heroine’ continues the glamorisation of smack that started with the “let’s chase the dragon” refrain in ‘Let’s Stay Together’ and is every bit as inexcusable. Ask Frances Bean Cobain about it in a couple of years and I’m sure she’ll tell you that as a leisure pursuit, heroin is seriously overrated.
Those of you hoping for something to rival the testosterone rush of ‘Animal Nitrate’ or ‘The Drowners’ are in for a disappointment – ‘We Are The Pigs’ is the only time when Dog Man Star comes vaguely close to rocking out and even then, it’s a measured celebration rather than a statement of rampant sexual intent.
There are those who’d suggest that Suede’s difficult album will be their third but for now let’s forget the whys and wherefores of Bernard Butler’s departure and rejoice in what is most probably the best white boy guitar rock album of the year.
• Stuart Clark