Release Date: Oct 4, 2011
Record label: Brett Anderson
Since releasing his eponymous solo debut in 2007, Suede frontman Brett Anderson has plotted an increasingly odd path. Turning at times to cinematic scores, folk tunes and classical symphonies for ideas, his albums have gotten progressively farther away from the influences that helped make Suede the best anti-Britpop band of the ’90s. Thankfully, his fourth outing, Black Rainbows, finds him once again turning to his two biggest heroes: Bowie and Morrissey.
Returning to rock after a prolonged flirtation with subdued introspection, Brett Anderson doesn’t quite indulge in a full-throttle hip shake on 2011’s Black Rainbows, but he’s making the loudest noise he has since reuniting with Bernard Butler for the Tears. Butler isn’t present for Black Rainbows -- he skipped out on the 2011 Suede reunion as well -- and also absent is a certain sense of grandeur that came with the Anderson/Butler collaborations; this album isn’t in CinemaScope, it’s been scaled down to fit your television. Anderson remains relatively ruminative; there’s a softness to his attack and a deliberateness to his tempos, yet the added volume and accompanying color make a considerable difference in liveliness and listenability.
A first taste of Black Rainbows should ideally be preceded by an imaginary video montage. In this ‘montage du cinema’, a shadowy seer would be seen staggering from a cave. Bleary-eyed with wild hair, shaggy beard and dishevelled long, grey robes, ashened by soot and spiders’ webs. One hand rising to block out the blistering sun.
[a]Brett Anderson[/a]’s never been one to shirk a ludicrous metaphor. Twelve years after hitting on a girl that was “[i]the colour of a magazine[/i]”, the daft loon’s prancing merrily ’neath ‘[b]Black Rainbows[/b]’ on his post-Suede reunion Return To Rock Form. The record boasts maybe his finest solo single to date in ‘[b]Brittle Heart[/b]’, plus a clutch of mid-tempo rockers that scrub up nicely – even if the seedy Soho glam of yore is replaced by a leadenly earnest tone.
Back in 1992, you couldn't find two rock acts more diametrically opposed than Pavement and Suede-- the former were all-American every-dudes indulging in cryptic, dissonant slop-pop; the latter were libidinous, decadent Brit androgynes with Wembley-sized ambitions. And yet the bands shared uncannily similar trajectories-- each was at the forefront of significant sea changes in its home country's independent music scene (lo-fi American indie rock for the former, Britpop for the latter), only to peter out around the turn of the millennium. Both bands' respective frontmen-- Stephen Malkmus and Brett Anderson-- have since embarked on solo careers that have seen each go to great lengths to redefine himself: Malkmus as a guitar hero, Anderson as a brooding balladeer.
An intermittently promising teaser for the main event: a new Suede album. Kevin Harley 2011 If Brett Anderson’s fourth solo album isn’t quite the fringe-flicking hit hoped for from a man who reclaimed his fop-rock crown at Suede’s reunion gigs, the reason might lie in the timing. Working with go-to session guy Leo Abrahams, Anderson mapped out Black Rainbows before Suede’s resurgence.