Suede, Coming Up, 1996, Nude Records
By the Sea
Picnic by the Motorway
The Chemistry Between Us
Suede (known in the US as “The London Suede” following a trademark lawsuit after the release of their first album) got together in London in 1989, released their first album in 1993 and are very much part of Britpop, although the band themselves would reject the association. In fact, they are credited with being the catalyst for Britpop when the appeared on the cover of Melody Maker Magazine in 1992 and the subsequent hype this created around their early single releases which were very different in style to the Madchester scene that was petering out at the time. Coming Up was their third album, reaching number one and spawning five top ten singles. It also went platinum. Coming Up was deliberately intended to have a much more commercial sound than their first two albums and with line up changes as well, there is a marked difference in sound. They were heavily influenced by glam rock and the music of T-Rex in particular in the creation process of the album.
Trash which would go on to become Suede’s most successful single is a euphoric, bass-heavy beginning to the album with vocals that weave perfectly into the tight guitar sound. The guitars are also brilliant on Filmstar with it’s crashing opening and catchy, slightly psychedelic chorus.The Beatles-eaque Lazy is a gentler, poppier track. Piano ballad By the Sea is haunting and gentle. She is a total change of pace, dark and ominous despite the poppy “Woo-wooing” in the intro. Beautiful Ones, one of the band’s most well known songs is a catchy, head bopping trawl through the early 1990s rave scene. Starcrazy has another crashing guitar start and catchy chorus. Picnic by the Motorway is slow and trippy and for me, the only weak link on the album. The wistful sounding The Chemistry Between Us is about the emptiness of taking drugs with people whose only common interest is in taking drugs. Saturday Night is a beautiful ending to an album that has essentially been one up and down sort of party. A positive and affirming love song for the parade of misfits that have run through the previous 9 songs.
It’s a truly great album full of interesting lyrics and catchy hooks. It definitely achieved the aim of being more commercial but still being an unmistakably ‘Suede’ record. The songs just stick in your head and you can’t help dancing to them. Die-hard Suede fans may disagree, but I think this, their most accessible album is the perfect starting point for anyone who doesn’t know their music. As they influenced Bloc Party, The Long Blondes, My Chemical Romance and The Libertines, they are definitely a band worth checking out.