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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
The Tears
Here Come the Tears
Independiente Records

Rating: 7/10 ?

July 18, 2005
See if you can guess who this is: a Britpop band who formed around a charismatic vocal stylist and a brilliant guitarist, and can write an insanely catchy song. They found success with a brief string of brilliant records and were anointed 'the new [Beatles/Bowie].' However, simmering differences soon split the band's central axis and the two shouted at each other in the British music press before forming separate acts. Odds are on the guitarist to be the successful one, but the singer ends up carrying the torch, despite being derided as a sellout, while the axe hero packages dry toast and calls it a solo career. If you guessed the Smiths, Libertines or Blur, you're only underscoring the point that Suede was part of an archetypically British rock story. Given how quickly guitarist Bernard Butler's solo career and singer Brett Anderson's Suede albums both declined, though, you could be forgiven for forgetting that they were once considered heirs to Morrissey and Marr, especially since Anderson and Butler's gutter glam is so far out of fashion in our New Wave-worshipping 21st century. Currently, however, they've bucked the archetype and reformed for perhaps the first such reunion in British pop history as the Tears. As a claim to fame, that's pretty slim, and their debut album, Here Come the Tears, won't exactly eclipse it. It sounds confident and brash but breaks little new ground (the "Hand in Glove"-esque harmonica on "Autograph," for instance). Those who still hold a place in their heart for Dog Man Star, however, will be pleased to know that Here Come the Tears answers the question of how Suede's later, bouncier records would have sounded if Butler had stayed.

Just as on the first two Suede records, Butler's noisy, glittery guitar tone is a secret weapon that makes even minor songs like "Co-Star' sound like grand, yearning ballads, and his melodic touch gives sweetness and humanity to Anderson's sense of drama (especially on the mini-epic "Apollo 13"). Anderson, in turn, brings the personality and charisma that was missing from nearly all of Butler's solo career, mainly through his obsessions with fame and his girlfriends' imperfections. The Tears' best song, "Refugees," shows you what's most right - and most wrong - with the band. It starts out like a classic Suede single, with strutting T. Rex riffage and grand proclamations of love among the dark, dirty streets. Anderson compares his protagonists to Bonnie and Clyde and mopes in an adolescent fashion, "our love is our savior/our life is our pain," while lovesick violins sweeten up Butler's swirling arrangement. It's wicked fun until you realize that the title isn't a metaphor - Anderson's actually trying to sing about real refugees, but try as he might, he can't make it sound any less like two horny teenagers sneaking out past their curfew.

The Tears' members have become like a Kids in the Hall character who sounds sarcastic even when he's sincere, stuck so far in their style they could probably make nuclear war sound like a Ziggy Stardust outtake. Here Come the Tears fits nicely in Anderson and Butler's catalogs and certainly beats anything they've done in the last five years, but it makes matters clear that all they'll ever do is release clones of what they once were. It all begs the question, if you're the members of Suede and you sound like Suede, why the hell not call yourself Suede?

Reviewed by Niles Baranowski

See other reviews by Niles Baranowski



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