Brett Anderson - Self Titled Review


An epic yet understated masterpiece.

My love of Suede is no secret.   "Dog Man Star" is one of the best albums ever committed to record.  The fact that the band was so unhappy with the end result of that album has always made me yearn to hear what the band truly wanted it to sound like.  The Tears featured the first time Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler joined synergistic forces again and was my favorite album of 2005.  It was with great anticipation that I waited on Brett's next move.  No Butler along for the ride this time but Anderson solo is still a thrilling ride.

The Tears debut album (pray for a follow up) was a mixture of new Suede (post-Butler glam pop nitrate hits) and spine tingling ballads that evoked the very best of early Suede.  For example:

"The Ghost of You" is what epic/understated bliss is all about.  A sad lament about a mother who passed on to the "next life".  Anderson sounds like he could either take revenge on the god who took her or acquiesce into acceptance. 

 

Few songs are painfully beautiful.  Apollo 13 can only be described as that.  There is a raw emotion that is only truly captured in the live versions of this song.  Anderson self-flagellates himself into a frenzy of intense poetic confessions while Butler creates sonic fireworks that sear the ear in their magnitude.  If you haven't guessed yet I like this song.  A lot.  The above clip throws you straight into the action while the clip below shows the build and the explosion that claimed the lives of all those fortunate enough to hear it.

 

 This catches us up to what Brett Anderson did next.  A solo self-titled affair that he has never attempted before.  What I thought would be a stripped down affair without Butler's star-gazing guitars and production is actually as grand and epic as any previous outing.  Possibly the vision behind both Suede and The Tears is mainly Anderson's and this album goes to prove that this one man was truly the driving force behind all of it (the early "smiths"onian dystopia to the bowie glam pop to the aching intergalactic ballads).  The album takes off with the first single "Love is Dead".

 Anderson said songs that define his true state happen every ten years (the last was "Trash") and this is the one that sums up his existence nowadays.  Brett evokes "Painted People" with his chant of plastic people halfway through.  It's hard to feel sympathy for a man this talented but Brett effortlessly evokes the hope that he will one day find the one.                  

          "No one really cares if no one ever shares my bed."  "I Know It's Over"-era Moz would smile while lying on his bedroom floor.  This is a song that could save someone's life.

 

"One Lazy Morning" comes next and its beautiful.  It seems to be what Anderson has been stabbing at for a long time regarding a hazy AM dream but he finally pulls it off flawlessly.  He injects some sexually ambigious lyrics a la the early days of Suede.

 "Am I gonna find Jesus in Me, Does he watch me when I'm sleeping?"  Flawless.

 

Next up is "Dust and Rain".  The intro evokes the likes of "She" or "Killing of a Flash Boy" but evolves into something more restrained.  Anderson's vocals peak at the chorus and he is at the top of his game.

"And this is the moment that words can't explain.  And your love is like an overdose with your hands wrapped around my throat, using sex like an antidote to the pain."  Amongst the best in Suedian lyrics.

 

"Intimacy" is where Brett lets his defenses down.  A great track that evokes his work in The Tears.  

"Sex is the game the animals are playing, Let's eat the pain away."  With lyrics like this who needs Butler.

 

 "To the Winter" is the companion to "The Ghost of You" on the last album.  Anderson shreds off his skin and after all is ripped away, Anderson's skeleton belts out a standout on an amazing album.  It sounds new but also harkens back to early Suede heart wrenchers like "The Wild Ones" and "The Drowners". 

"Carve your name into my ugly wrist"

 

"Scorpio Rising" is a song I heard well before this album was released on Brett's Official page.  It had me worried since it sounded generic, like Suede on cruise control.  Nothing much has changed with this song and it's the achille's heel of the album.  While it would be a stand out on Head Music or A New Morning, it's the only misfire on this album.

"Scorpio Rising, Scorpio Rising, Scorpio Rising"  You get the idea.

 

 While this clip of "The Infinite Kiss" is almost unlistenable to, you can still pick up it's urgency.  Anderson must have been listening to Cat Steven and indulged in a few spirituality lessons to come up with this wall of sound.  The production here sounds the most like "Apollo 13" (which sounds much better live) but the studio version holds up better in this case.  I believe all the background vocals are Brett's but layered and he creates something that sounds very close to infinite with the overlays.

"As it pins you to the ground like a tethered animal"

 

"Colour of the Night"  This song may just prove that Brett needs no one else to make the greatest songs.  Some may say it's too short but he says more here than most artists do in an entire album.

"My lover she hides a cruel disease, It's the bullet in her mind, It's the plan between her knees, It's the number of the beast.  My lover she dreams of Tel Aviv, She's got nails in her hands and nails in her feet"  No better since 1993.  "Tell me when hell was so beautiful."

And Brett did this in Tel Aviv:

 Amazing.

Brett follows this up with "The More We Possess the Less We Own Ourselves".  This song evokes "Duchess" and The Tears b-sides which are both great compliments.  Anderson takes the pulpit against consumerism and debt culture and after 3 minutes and 30 seconds of our time, his message makes a lot of sense.

 

"Ebony" evokes The Tears sound but in a more refined manner.  It sounds like Brett's take on a "Perfect Day" but instead of drinking Sangria in a park, it's vodka at some cheap restaurant and then to the park to walk through the leaves and carve names in trees. 

"Vodka in the afternoon, drunk so much we left our food"  "We saw faces in the trees"  "I'll take you where the pigeons fly and ill tell you pretty lies."

 

"Song for My Father" is the closer we all hoped for.  It's not bombastic or overassuming.  It's just perfect.  It sounds like a wave engulfing all you heard before and it crashes into a mixture of perfect grandiose and meaningful confession.  You, Brett, leave us better than you found us. 

 "Like the soil on your hands, I am compost and leaves."  "And now I am free."  "But nobody saw any beauty in me."  "When my life has gone, darling, and now i am free and my life has gone, my darling, like words made of sand like the shivering trees."  "When you are free."   

 

P.S.  PJC, I think you'll enjoy this alot knowing your appreciation of Apollo 13.