An exhilarating reunion at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 2010. Three incredible and by turn bombastic, expansive and bleakly ornate new records in 2013’s Bloodsports, 2016’s Night Thoughts and 2018’s The Blue Hour. Infinite shows and festivals all over the planet. And now the raucous physicality of new album Autofiction. Since reforming, Suede have reminded us again and again that, beyond the breakthroughs and breakdowns, the trends and the bends, their brilliantly acerbic songs have lasted the test of time. And ravenous artistic compulsion propels them ever forward.

So, in 2010, seven years after winding down, Suede unexpectedly wound up again. And “wound up” is about right for this band. Their return triggered a flood of memories; frenzied performances, high-wire ambition, life-changing impact. For once, the headline “The Best New Band In Britain” was warranted, positioned over their photo on the cover of Melody Maker. Top 10 crasher ‘Animal Nitrate’ was followed by Suede, the biggest selling UK album debut since Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Welcome To The Pleasuredome and, soon, winner of the Mercury Music prize. Suede were trailblazers, innovators, cultural aggregators, and everyone wanted a piece.

If anything, Britpop generated Suede’s next phase. The next album would be, “a lot stranger”. With Bernard Butler now engrossed by Joy Division and Scott Walker, the next single ‘Stay Together’ weighed in at eight intensely dramatic minutes. But ironically, the partnership was ripped apart by attendant pressures on two quite different personalities and Bernard quit before Dog Man Star was even released.  Dog Man Star topped the UK charts but was symbolically knocked off by Oasis’ Definitely Maybe. Bernard’s replacement Richard Oakes fitted Suede’s aesthetic of transforming your grotty reality, plus “he brought unity to the band,” Brett recalls. “We became a little gang. And he had the ability to make the kind of album we wanted.”

The gang became five when Simon’s cousin Neil Codling also joined, bringing songwriting nous, insouciant presence and perfect cheekbones. Anyone doubting Suede’s chances of surviving the split were rocked when the resulting Coming Up, Suede’s pop zenith, charted at number one in the UK and spawned an astounding four top ten hits. Suede’s fourth album Head Music made in-roads toward a more electronic-rhythmic sound. When Neil left, and Brett finally admitted drugs had got the better of him, it was clear something had stalled. They soldiered on, released A New Morning in 2002 to muted response.

Brett’s escape was to announce Suede were on sabbatical. He and Bernard soon formed The Tears and released Here Come The Tears, but Brett’s solo albums indicate where his heart truly lay throughout the next few years – bombastic; now pastoral; now burnishing folk with delicate electronic elements, then deconstructing and reconstructing post-punk.

With that said, Suede’s reunion was what really re-lit the touchpaper, even if the burn was to be slow at first. When Teenage Cancer Trust asked if Suede would play a benefit, everyone agreed the time felt right. After two intimate warm-ups, the Royal Albert Hall show was astonishing. To even fervent fans, the ecstatic tension between them and Suede hadn’t dropped an iota.

Fast forward to September 16th 2022: Suede release Autofiction –  “their punk album”. A record that crackles with the sort of exuberant fire familiar to anyone who has seen the band live in recent years. If 30 years ago, ‘The Drowners’ was a rattling anthem for the blurred sexuality and vivacity of unusual youth, then Autofiction’s grappling with concerns of a different point in life sound no less vital. “It does feel like a new page to me,” says Anderson. “I always thought of the first three records as a trilogy in a way, and the last three too. Autofiction has a natural freshness, it’s where we want to be.” And where Suede want to be is, in a way, the same place as they were when they began 30 years ago – a group of people living off the raw sensation of making a racket in a room.

Selected Discography