The Blue Hour is every bit as cold and earthy as its name suggests. It’s an album filled with ideas of dead birds and decay. The sound of old stone filled with weeds and rusted fences. This is pretty familiar territory for Suede by this point. This is one of the few comebacks done without any sense of throwback and, more importantly, from a band with many more good ideas to get out. Where so many bands fall victim to going backwards on an everlasting victory lap, Suede showed no intention of retracing old ground again. They wanted to push themselves further forward.
The Blue Hour is most easily comparable to their 1994 album, Dog Man Star, which deals in terribly bleak subject matter. However, for all its stone cold moments, The Blue Hour doesn’t appear bleak to me, not even particularly dark. There are classic gothic undertones and grisly kitchen sink realities that the band are particularly excellet at conjuring but, overall, it’s really quite cathartic to listen to. Brett Anderson’s vocal hasn’t changed a great deal over the band’s career; he sings in a less abrasive manner, however his voice remains every bit as euphoric to listen to as it always has been.
The thing with The Blue Hour is, it’s an unbelievably grand album to listen to. Suede are one of the few bands that would write a rock album to then only go on to make it sound as close to it being recorded in a church hall as they could. ‘As One’, with the help of a choir of monks, is a song of epic cinema. It sets the tone for The Blue Hour perfectly.
There are plenty of familiar flourishes from classic Suede. Mainly structurally and in Richard Oakes’ guitar, however, this is a band that have evolved so much so from their earlier days. Even from their first reunion album, Bloodsports, they’ve still gone forward. It seems Suede couldn’t lose their creative spark even if they tried.
The way The Blue Hour is put together is also very impressive. Each song manages to shift and move so smoothly between one another and build to its logical conclusion in ‘Flytipping’. It’s clear that Suede are in a place where they can make the albums they want to, without having to prove or win anyone over.
The majority of the songs on The Blue Hour are written with that familiar sense of balladry that have always followed Suede around. Think ‘New Generation’, ‘The Wild Ones’ or ‘She’s Not Dead’ for points of comparison but written by a far more mature band. It doesn’t mix up these ideas too much and isn’t an album that’s striking in the way of hits and singles. However, for what the band have shot for, that would be a complete misfire.
The Blue Hour is a lengthy and sprawling listen. It certainly isn’t the place to start with as your first Suede album but it’s unlikely anyone would either. There’s a great feeling with The Blue Hour, as there was with Night Thoughts, that Suede are just making albums for themselves and are adding to their discography as they see fit. I don’t think they’re really that fussed about the limelight anymore.
ith that mindset, The Blue Hour lets you enjoy Suede running free creatively. So many bands that reunite end up becoming shackled by that very thing, in Suede’s case it’s set them free. The Blue Hour is a creative triumph and an epic album to listen to. Suede have a creative light that simply won’t die down.