Statement of Intent Mk. 4

STATEMENT OF INTENT.

There aren’t many other bands with the confidence to drop off a statement of intent with the casual deftness (and soulless ease)  of a seasoned terrorist, leaving a bundle of words and threatening tones ticking away in your mind until the inevitable happens. Of course, not many bands were as fortunate as Suede, blessed with an impossibly beautiful lead singer (Brett Anderson) and an impossibly young (all of 19 when he joined the group) and impossibly talented guitarist (Bernard Butler).

This is the first track off their second album (and first album presenting them as the “London Suede” here in the US, lest any of us stateside Suedeheads become confused as to whether we were listening to the British glamrock we loved or the other Suede, that we had never listened to ever) Dog Man Star, which is one of their more consistent outings, but nothing else on it reaches the menacing peaks this one does.

Throbbing dangerously with barely restrained energy, the enveloping hum of bass sounding like a transformer substation on the verge of exploding, the track seethes and vibrates. The lyrics themselves are a work of enthralling, horrific art as well. Anderson has the protagonist (and album title) lead off by “sucking on a pill” before painting a picture of despair and violence using seemingly unrelated words:

Chic thug stuttered through a stereo dream
A fifty-knuckle shuffle heavy metal machine
Tears of suburbia drowned the land
Introducing the band

If the thought of this creature roaming the lands isn’t enough to terrorize those who it’s intended to terrorize, the next stanza brings home the horror show, turning the violence inward:

Steal me a savage, subservient son
Get him shacked up, bloodied up and sucking on a gun

At which point, Suede plays with rough trade in heavy traffic, conflating Anderson’s cheerless androgyny with the used-up human being appearing just before the focus shift:

I want the smile of a woman, the kiss of a man
Introducing the band

If Suede wanted to be the new Smiths, it could have taken the title with those two lines. They already had the gender havoc, personified by Anderson’s looks, tastes and lyrics. They also had the requisite impossibly talented/young guitarist in Butler, who could do everything Johnny Marr could do, including jump ship.

Finally, the inverted violence explodes outward:

And as the sci-fi lullaby starts to build
See them whipping all the women, cracked governments killed
Oh let the century die to violent hands
Introducing the band

Sure, the Manic Street Preachers had made it redundant to be tie glam rock to revolutionary rhetoric, but as the bassline here approaches critical mass, sounding like the Four Horseman of Apocalypse arriving by train, and Butler, relegated to the background for most of the track, leads into the final refrain by unleashing white hot arcs of trebly distortion all over the humming propulsion, you swiftly realize that Suede, at their best, could do more damage in 3 minutes then the Manics could ever hope to conjure over an entire career of overly-wordy track titles.

/s/CLT

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