Amazon was inevitable. A new Suede album, however, was not. Mere months after the Britpop progenitors embarked upon a well-received greatest hits revue in 2011, frontman Brett Anderson had returned to his decade-long practice of releasing small-scale solo albums, while a concurrent, exhaustive reissue of Suede’s back catalogue seemingly confirmed the reunion’s retrospective impetus. And there was, of course, the nagging question of whether a new album was even necessary. After all, Suede were their generation’s Saturday night soundtrack to being young, being lost, and undergoing all the necessary preparations (cigarettes, alcohol, drugs of dubious origin) to ensure you leave behind a most exquisite corpse. What could Suede offer to their faithful now that, well into their sober 40s, they no longer represent any of these things?
For Bloodsports, their plan is not to simply recapture their past, but imagine an alternate course for it. Like their 2011 tour campaign, Bloodsports employs the band’s post-1995 line-up-- i.e., the one without Anderson’s formative songwriting partner-turned-nemesis, Bernard Butler. In the absence of Butler’s authoritative presence, Suede’s albums sometimes veered toward the slight and frivolous, the tension and bravado that fuelled their definitive singles giving way to a certain self-satisfied complacence. But if the relationship between Anderson and Butler’s replacement, Richard Oakes, was decidedly less tumultuous, on Bloodsports, the guitarist’s presence has an undeniably reinvigorating effect on the singer.