Citing Argentinean film score composer Gustavo Santaolalla and British folk legend Bert Jansch as influences, his new album 'Slow Attack' sees Brett Anderson exploring the abstract rather than the lyrical, choosing to abandon traditionally narrative songs and instead, as he himself puts it, ‘using words as impressionistic brushstrokes’. In equal parts both cinematic and pastoral, the album’s instrumentation heavily features woodwind and stringed instruments, lending it a gorgeously rich quality. Perhaps taking inspiration from the amorphous beauty of solo Mark Hollis/late Talk Talk, this, Brett's third solo album seems to exist in its own space and time.
Throughout his career it would be fair to say that Brett Anderson has never done anything by halves. At strategic points he has performed such a volte- face with his music that it has sometimes been hard for fans and critics to know what he is going to do next. This record is no exception, and is the most astounding record Brett has made in his entire career.
His first record, the era-defining ‘Suede’, became the soundtrack to a new generation, a generation disaffected by much of the music and culture around it, and one hungry for the visceral thrills intrinsic in the best timeless pop. They found it in Suede who would come to be the group who informed not only their vast audience but the whole of the music industry, creating a seismic shift away from the domination of American rock music in the UK.
From then on, Brett Anderson would display an intelligence and sense of artistry that would single him and his group out from the herds who followed. A tellingly dramatic shift in personnel on the eve of their brilliantly grandiose second album 'Dog Man Star' threatened to derail them but they returned with a new vigour and focus and became even more successful than ever. For a while they were imperious, ruling the charts and the music press with a sense of experimentation and style which was completely their own.
Listen back to the records today and here indeed is the sound of a group thrillingly ahead of the pack. Everything they did was immaculate and fitted into a glorious lineage encompassing Bowie, T.Rex, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Roxy Music – not in sound but in inspiration and that peculiarly English sense of otherness, of being on the outside, of playing around within pop’s often limited strictures. More than just pop songs, for many Suede’s music was a lifeline to another world and to this day their work stands alone in capturing an expressly British aesthetic.
When the group split Brett reunited with ex Suede guitarist Bernard Butler to form The Tears, and their album 'Here Come The Tears' was released in 2005. Brett also collaborated with Stina Nordenstam and Jane Birkin.
In 2007, he released his debut solo album, the intensely personal 'Brett Anderson', which captured an artist at a turning point in his life. Of course the gorgeous melodies were still there but this time they were coupled to lyrics that showed an artist coming to terms with huge life changes and new experiences. This was an altogether different artist from the one who had so adroitly captured various other lives through a looking glass in his earlier work. The focus was moving inwards.
Next came 'Wilderness' in September 2008, one of the most haunting records of the year. Detailing a love affair, the record displayed all the heightened emotions of love and thus was joyous, bleak, euphoric, and reflective – and very beautiful.
Now Brett brings us 'Slow Attack'. Recorded between January and May 2009 in London and co written and produced by Leo Abrahams, 'Slow Attack' is an ethereal and hugely atmospheric piece of work from an artist who is quietly carving out a very idiosyncratic niche for himself as a solo artist of sublime merit. The album is out now on BA Songs.