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The London Suede: Sci-Fi Lullabies

According to all precedents, The London Suede should have destroyed itself in an implosion of hype and internal dissension by now. After a much-heralded debut, the neo-glam band saw its American audience dwindle away, co-writer/guitarist Bernard Butler depart, and its status as Brit-pop flavor of the month taken over by acts such as Blur and Oasis. With the suspect hiring of 17-year-old Butler look- and sound-alike Richard Oakes, the future seemed dubious, but this year's Trash was a strong effort—not to mention a popular one almost everywhere else in the world—and Suede shows no sign of letting up. Still, even the best bands would have a hard time pulling off a two-disc, 27-track collection of B-sides, and a little of Suede has always gone a long way, which is part of what makes Sci-Fi Lullabies such a surprise. Maybe it's because the band has always been about the total product—as much thought seems to have been put into its distinctive album and single covers as into the music itself—that Suede would not simply treat its B-sides as opportunities to unload half-baked and failed ideas. In fact, this collection has more consistency than many acts' studio albums, dispensing moody, catchy melodramatics while maintaining a remarkably high level of quality. The titles when read in successcion—"Europe Is Our Playground," quot;Killing Of A Flash Boy," "These Are The Sad Songs"—maybe laughable, but the music is not. Suede at its best has converted seemingly impossible, ridiculously ambitious notions into first-rate pop music, and it's to its further credit that a collection that could have been an exception proves not to be.


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