And there's me thinking Michael Head has got this years Album Of The Year sewn up, and then this one comes along to make me go "Hmm?"
This is Suede's ninth album, and their fourth since 2010s reformation. And is probably the best of those 4 (although 2018s dystopian-epic 'The Blue Hour' runs it close)
They have successfully pulled off a re-invention of sorts with each release, and there is a slight feeling of going full-circle with this album. The songs are tight, the band tighter, and Brett's histrionic vocals on top form.
Some write-ups have referred to this release as "their Punk album" - well, maybe Punk in attitude and exuberance, but not in songcraft and presentation.
Opener "She Still Leads Me On" - Brett Anderson's song to his departed Mother - opens the album, sets out the stall, conjures reminders of the debut, and all-in-all is a copper bottom Suede classic (a trick repeated with "15 Again", and very probably a couple of others here too).
In old money, Side 1 is a superb listen, and closes with "Drive Myself Home" which has the melancholic feeling of an album closer proper - akin to "The Next Life" from the debut. However, where that one closed the album on a quiet note (I always wanted more out of that album after it ended), this one peaks in a euphoric string section before returning to the plaintive (with a bit of Grimethorpe Colliery Band brass).
But this is no closer, as 'Autofiction' serves up another 5 top notch tracks, the picks being "Black Ice" and "What Am I Without You". The sweeping epic "Turn Off Your Brain And Yell" rounds off the most complete album since 1996s 'Coming Up'
(and in my confused mind, and where I stand alone, it's still a better album than 'Dog Man Star')
She Still Leads Me On