Album Review: “The Blue Hour” by Suede
Shortly after his move to the inspiring rural landscape of Somerset, Suede frontman Brett Anderson began working on the band’s new album. As they leave behind the exploration into the wild, dark, and troubled urban spaces that made them famous, Suede’s new absorption of the vacant and eerie countryside gave birth to The Blue Hour. Their eighth studio album is as haunting, lonely and desolate as it is heartfelt, intimate, and passionate.
“Talking to my shadow / Head in my hands.”
The album by Suede explores the tale of a missing child and the dark world created around this fearful event. As One is an apocalyptic start to the album’s dystopian setting. This track of exasperation, distance and dreaming explores the prospect of child-like trauma and the escape from it that one would yearn. The role of the choir and City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra really help to give the album a strong start. It acts as a nice progression from the cinematic endeavours of their 2016 album, Night Thoughts. With lyrics such as “talking to my shadow/head in my hands,” the sporadic guitar playing help to create the vibe of doom and gloom.
The album musically builds itself up with the subsequent track, Wastelands. The guitar riffs are expressive (lifting the track’s gravitas), and Anderson’s vocals are as haunting and beautiful as always. He sings of decay with lyrics such as “…the clock is ticking away/and the wind is calling us.” As the band harks back to their classic sound, their narrative departure into the ‘wastelands’ provide us with an eerie sense of security and connection “where the fear will fade away/where the children in us play.”
“Beyond the outskirts, come with us, we’ll jump out of the page and into the fire.”
This dark and throwback sound is heard again in Cold Hands and Beyond the Outskirts. These two tracks possess the anthemic touch beautified by the epic guitar riffs from Richard Oakes and the choruses’ heightened rushes. It is here where we realise that the album’s dystopian world of decay and trouble hides tremendous powers within it. Its capacity for unflinching compassion, friendship, and love make the record more profound than a mere exploration into the terrifying. Therefore, in its purest essence, ‘Beyond the Outskirts’ is very much concerned with feeling safe. That presence of a comforting calling helps you escape your dark troubles and empty surroundings.
Mistress is about a doomed relationship and dark secrets. The darkness and trouble of this predicament is explored beautifully by the unsettled and circular guitar riffs. The chorus is particularly beautiful, dressed as a plea for the mistress to not release the secret of their affair. The track also possesses great fear of the unknown, which appears again in the emotive Tides. The treacherous directions of the tide bring with it an alluring capacity for rejuvenation (e.g. “clinging to the voids as I’m riding the waves/it’s making me new again”).
“You’re not alone, look into the light and be heard.”
Life is Golden is not only the most beautiful track on the album, but one of their best in years. Its haunting yet tremendously heartfelt nature shines. As a song sang to the missing child, its message is made more profound by its wonderful guitar riffs and the heart-warming aura created by the formidable vocals. As one of the grittier tracks on the album, Don’t Be Afraid if Nobody Loves You is as a glorious throwback to the classic sound of Suede. In a way similar to ‘Life is Golden,’ Anderson is singing words of comfort to a lost and troubled soul trapped in fear. It certainly possesses the capacity to be alarmingly topical and socially conscious.
“And we are the invisibles / Plain and lonely.”
Suede then utilise the last three tracks to make the album explode into a magnificent climax. Here, they are really spoiling us with their splendour and cinematic sound. All the Wild Places is the most orchestral song on the album, with its strings particularly shining. It is essentially an ode to desolation and emptiness: “of all the wild places I love, you are the most desolate.” Its musical interludes firstly create the spaces of void, and then the track’s rhythms and emotions help to provide them with colour and, essentially, a soul. The Invisibles is an added dose of cinematic goodness. Standing as a grand board game of emotion and solitude, it would fit wonderfully within a grand film soundtrack. “And we are the invisibles/Plain and lonely” sings Brett Anderson, as the lonely but strong protagonist.
Suede’s eighth studio album ends beautifully with the epic Flytipping. The track’s orchestral backing and belting vocals from the frontman really make it a highlight. The track’s grand journey into an existential crisis would fit perfectly on the end of a blockbuster horror movie. In the lead up to the magnificent chorus, the drums create great anticipation in the track. However, the strong and lengthy guitar riffs are the real stars here, with their troubled but relentless explorations into the void.
Since the start, Suede have beautifully engaged with and championed the invisible, the wild, and the strangely alluring. Here, this is stronger than ever. Despite the change of world into one that is grander, more rural, and more desolate, this tantalising journey into the lonely and dangerous world of The Blue Hour displays both Suede’s unflinching spirit and endless creative progression of the dark aura we fell in love with in 1993.
Picks: Wastelands, Life is Golden, and Flytipping.
From Sophia with Love x