Album Review: Suede – The Best of Suede (2011 2-Disc Compilation)

Suede emerged in the early nineties wearing leather jackets and lacy ladies shirts, and reeking of an attitude that led them to dominate the British pop music charts for nearly a decade. The band’s music was catchy but complex, and debut single “The Drowners” established Suede as “the best new band in Britain” on the cover of Melody Maker magazine, before they’d even released an album! Brett Anderson’s sexually fueled lyrical matter was intruiging and hypnotic to the bored, hypersexualised, average British teen, and coupled with the shimmering darkness of Suede’s guitar pop sound, led to a massive following of dedicated fans.

Despite their commercial success and importance in establishing the nineties’ Britpop music scene, Suede suffered a disappointing end to their career with the release of 2002’s A New Morning, and subsequently seemed to have been forgotten by the very same devotees who once sported Brett Anderson haircuts and danced by slapping their hand on their arse repeatedly. Nearly ten years down the line, Suede recovered from their embarrassing decline and reunited to play several international shows, resurrecting the Suede hype of the nineties. The reunion served as good a time as any for the band to release The Best of Suede: a two disc set of Suede’s more popular songs, handpicked by Brett Anderson himself.

It’s no secret that Anderson is a huge fan of his own music, and this compilation displays that with transparency. The Best of Suede mirrors the tracks favoured by fans worldwide, in fact, it’s almost identical to my own “Best of Suede” playlist. Opening with one of the band’s most popular tracks, “Animal Nitrate”, Disc One is eighteen of the band’s best singles. Considering Suede have released twenty one singles to date, it’s clear that Anderson, the proud bastard, finds it too difficult to pick ‘the best’ of his music. Regardless, Suede’s singles catalogue carries the same glittery pop sound infused with moody lyrics and intricate guitar riffs, and this makes for a great listening experience. “Beautiful Ones”, “Trash”, “So Young”, “Can’t Get Enough”… the songs’ catchiness and rough brand of pop intertwine and flow nicely throughout the album. It’s a little puzzling to find “Obsessions” on The Best of Suede, being one of the most despised songs by the band, but it’s understandable that Anderson should feel at least one song from A New Morning should make it on the compilation.

Disc Two is a little sloppier than Disc One, combining b-sides with popular album tracks. “Pantomime Horse” is perhaps a poor choice for an opener, with the intensely broody guitar riffs and depressing lyrics being undermined by the catchy second track, “My Insatiable One”. It’s difficult to create a harmony between songs within a compilation, particularly when Suede’s music gravitates between upbeat guitar pop and tragically dark epics. Anderson’s effort, however, is commendable, as the album maintains an elegant flow despite the strikingly different themes of music. The songs on Disc Two are Suede’s more serious efforts; less of their catchy pop music, and more of their incredible darker melodies – “My Dark Star”, “Sleeping Pills”, “The Living Dead”, and the final three songs closing the album, “The Asphalt World”, “Still Life”, and “The Next Life” showcasing Suede’s talent for constructing elaborate scores of hauntingly seductive music. The Best of Suede does the band’s music justice, although a few masterpieces are missing (namely “This Time” and “Picnic by the Motorway”). To create a compilation showcasing a limited selection of Suede’s best music is no easy task, but Anderson’s thorough understanding of his own music – and his fan’s opinion of it – has made the compilation enjoyable to listen to.

A pleasant selection of Suede’s glamorous tunes.

Review Score: 9/10