The Boston Phoenix
January 15 - 22, 1998

[Music Reviews]

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*** The London Suede



Beauty, or perhaps more accurately, glamor, has always been the raison d'être of the London Suede. That quality and all it implies -- charisma, style, confidence -- is in abundant supply on this two-disc compilation of British B-sides, most of which have never been issued in America.

Talk about an Anglophile's wet dream. The 27 tracks here, culled from no fewer than 13 EPs the band have released since 1992, shimmer with a distinctively British glam (read Bowie) sensibility and singer Brett Anderson's narrative obsessions: cars and petrol, oxygen and desire, glittery decadence. The songs are uniformly good -- doubtless because the EP format has always mattered most in the UK, where bands are routinely crowned and dethroned on the basis of a single or two. Despite the departure of founding guitarist Bernard Butler and the addition of his teenage replacement, Richard Oakes, the Suede's sound -- lush, grandiose -- remains virtually unchanged from the first track to the last (a compliment or criticism depending upon one's point of view). This consistency must be credited to Anderson, a gold-plated poseur whose vamping androgyny and spectacularly mannered vocals immediately, and indelibly, established the band's defining characteristics: epic narcissism and opulent beauty.

-- Jonathan Perry
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