September 12, 2022 Suede – Autofiction (Album Review)
One of the bands that planted, in the illustrious 1990s, the seeds of what became known as Britpop, Suede is back once again with yet another new album. Also known in the US as The London Suede, the band formed in 1989, in London, England, they currently consists of Brett Anderson (vocals), Mat Osman (bass), Simon Gilbert (drums), Richard Oakes (guitars), along with Neil Codling (keyboards, synthesizer, guitar, backing vocals). Returning with a follow up to their 2018 album The Blue Hour, they are ready to give the genre a proper and timely rock, shake, and excitement, especially that the world has been suppressed for a couple of years for reasons known to everyone. Produced by Ed Buller, the band’s longtime collaborator, Suede’s new album, Autofiction, is slated for release on Friday, September 16, 2022, via BMG Records.
Marking their ninth overall studio album, and consisting of eleven tracks, Autofiction is a return to the English luminaries’ raw and Garage-inspired, only slightly shiny beginnings. It opens straight away with the guitar-sparkly, rhythm-thumping, and head-bobbing “She Still Leads Me On.” Following next is the equally engaging “Personality Disorder,” which gallops proudly like “Animal Nitrate” and “Metal Mickey” of old. Seemingly a homage to ’80s Gothic Rock, “15 Again” then springs forth like the stompers of the much-missed era, the likes of The Cult’s “She Sells Sanctuary,” Gene Loves Jezebel’s “Gorgeous,” and Killing Joke’s “Eighties.”
Albeit still on high gear, the synth-drenched “The Only Way I Can Love You” is a bit subdued, what may be described as a Shoegaze-glazed Britpop ballad. “The Boy on the Stage,” on the other hand, comes across as a hybrid of Punk, Goth, and Rockabilly; something that Morrissey and the rest of the legendary The Smiths might have been dishing out if ever they had come to terms with one another and decided to release something new in this age.
There is also the piano-led and string-laden “Drive Myself Home” is a throwback to Suede’s second album, exuding echoes of “Still Life” in particular. “Black Ice” is a change of style and pace; perhaps this is Suede in its most metallic. With “Shadow Self,” the listener then gets taken back to the overall bright and upbeat disposition of Autofiction.
Sprinkling the album with a bit of sonic drama, Suede then delivers a buildup track in the form of “It’s Always the Quiet Ones.” After another piano-oriented song, a more somber and more impassioned one–“What Am I Without You?”, the obviously re-energized quintet of Anderson, Osman, Gilbert, Oakes, and Codling finally close their new powerhouse record with the imposing and angular “Turn Off Your Brain and Yell.”
With three decades and nine albums on their sleeves, Suede is really proving to be the last one outstanding from the batch of countless equally driven bands that released great records during the heyday of Britpop and Alternative Rock music and the years thereafter. That in mind, Autofiction is a must-have, for any fan of the revered genres and for the young and stranger ones who are on a mission to explore the music of bands that dominated the not-so-distant past. This is why Cryptic Rock gives it 4 out of 5 stars.