Opening on the less than ground breaking single 'Electricity', Suede's long-time fans may get a bit of a shock. They may wonder, has Brett lost his edge, doesn't this sound like something we've heard before, isn't £14.99 very expensive for a CD? Luckily, all these points can be quickly dismissed - except of course for the last. "Head Music", Suede's fourth studio album serves to consolidate the fact that Suede are still relevant and more importantly, still good.
'Savoir Faire' is appropriately dark and seedy and new single 'She's in Fashion' is a luxurious piece of armchair rock. 'Can't Get Enough' is reminiscent of Coming Up's 'Film Star', a punky, strutting tart of a song. 'Hi-Fi' and 'Head Music', "give me head, give me head…(OK, Brett) …music instead". There are many mellow moments, 'Everything will Flow' and 'Down'. 'Indian Strings' is a particularly sweet moment, a Spanish guitar accompanied by sweeping violins. In fact the only weak thing on this album is 'Elephant man', a complete disaster area, penned incidentally by Neil Codling. "I am, I am the elephant man/ it is incredible how I can/ look just like an elephant man". Stick to the synth, eh, Neil?
"Head Music" doesn't sound particularly like any of Suede's albums. It's richer than their debut and "Trash", it's well removed from "Dog Man Star", but then I don't think any album will ever re-capture that mood of melodrama and despair.
Suede have never compromised their sound for a wider audience appeal. As a result, they are one of those bands who are too alternative to be mainstream and too mainstream to be alternative. Still, they don't appear to give a shit. "Head Music" proves, beyond all cynicism, that Suede is one of the best thing about British music.
by Anne-Louise Foley