Having completed a triumphant reunion victory lap of festivals all over the world, and the re-release of their entire back catalogue in commendably comprehensive and extensive reissue packages, the legendary Suede inevitably had to get to the gritty business of making a new album to keep them from reunion limbo, playing the likes of Animal Nitrate, Trash, The Beautiful Ones and Saturday Night every night for the rest of their lives. You get the sense that having stared down the barrel of their past for a few years, Suede knew they had to make an album that could stand next to their best work, and there were reports coming from the studio that they had scrapped their first draft entirely and started again. We will never know how close we came to never even hearing Bloodsports but, thankfully, after an 11 year wait, Suede are back with new material.
The question on my mind at least during the build-up to hearing Bloodsports was which direction Suede would go in. Would we get the spunky, trashy glamour of Coming Up, the gothic bombast and melodrama of Dog Man Star or even the cold, futuristic pop of the misfiring Head Music? The answer, it turns out, is that there are elements of all of Suede's five previous albums on show here but, mostly, Bloodsports is a confident rock album which is still recognisably, undeniably Suede.
You get the euphoric strains of Barriers, the angular swagger of Snowblind and the jubilant self-confidence of recent single It Starts And Ends With You. This is the most typically 'rock' Suede have sounded since Coming Up and it is a joy to hear them just letting rip in that classic Suede way.
Elsewhere on the album is the dark and moody synth work out of Sabotage and the gorgeously epic slow burner Sometime I Feel I'll Float Away, which was worth reuniting for on its own. The album tails off towards the end with the strange, atmospheric What Are You Not Telling Me, but we can forgive a band who should by all accounts be a little rusty one duffer against nine songs which are, at worst, solid and exciting.
Bloodsports then, is exactly the album that Suede needed to make. It is loud, aggressive, uncompromising and absolutely, defiantly Suede. Nobody else could have written these songs. Suede have done the almost impossible task of simultaneously looking back at the past while planting a foot firmly into the future and have taken care of this reunion in a truly authentic and credible fashion. There will never be another band quite like Suede, thank Goodness they're back.
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