Enjoying the work of The London Suede has always depended upon a tolerance for swelling, overbearing music paired with melodramatically sung lyrics like, "two hearts under the skyscrapers," which come dangerously close to camp. If you can't put aside the fact that the group's albums have every reason to collapse under the weight of their own pretensions, you'll fail to notice that The London Suede actually makes them work. The leader of an early-'90s glam revival that never quite took hold, it borrowed not only its inspiration's sound, but also its attitude of arty affectation that could endear, move or irritate, depending on the listener's mood. And, just as its music shouldn't work but does, The London Suede should, by all laws of musical logic, have disappeared by now. However, after surviving a name change, the replacement of co-songwriter/guitarist Bernard Butler with an obscure 17-year old, and more than a few changes in musical fashion, the band has returned with a third album that's more consistent and accessible than anything it's produced before. Unlike either its self-titled debut or the good-but-overrated dogmanstar, new songs like "Trash" and "The Beautiful Ones" are more likely to inspire singing along than tortured posturing. If you can forget for a moment how silly it is at heart, it's easy to get caught up in the band's vision of trash-culture as transcendence.

Advertisement