Quick Hit Song Reviews: David Bowie and Suede

“Sue (Or In a Season of Crime)” by David Bowie

While David Bowie will always be remembered for his genre-switching, he had basically abandoned a the dark “goth-rock” exteriors on his own music since the 1970s in favor of a more conventional rock sound. Nothing on albums like Heathen or The Next Day showed any resemblance to the man who inspired 80s goth-rock legends like Bauhaus, Joy Division and Siouxsie and the Banshees. However, it seems fitting that Bowie’s requiem album returned to the darkness of some of his past work (“Warszawa” from Low comes to mind).

“Sue (Or In a Season of Crime)” is just one of the many dark tracks on Blackstar. The aesthetic of the song is reminiscent of Joy Division and other dreary post-punk artists, but it’s also inescapably Bowie. The vocals, for example, are crushingly effective. No one can sing quite like David Bowie. This track is one of his best vocal performances, as the emotional weight of the lyrics is translated perfectly by his singing.

The lyrics are also very gothic. David Bowie has always had an element of fun surround his albums, but there is very little humor in Blackstar, understandably. According to Rock Genius, the album is a reference to the 17th century play “’Tis a Pity She’s a Whore”, and this song can be interpreted as a modern retelling of the rather salacious play filled with double-crossing and treachery.

The song is full of dramatic and poetic tragedy, but ultimately it makes no difference to the persona, who fades away and realizes his attempts at a meaningful relationship are worthless. “I’m such a fool/Right from the start” Bowie sings at the end of the song. The post-punk drum and bass section and jazzy horns combine to form an ethos of darkness. Like all good Bowie tracks it sounds very cool and sleek.

“No Tomorrow” by Suede

Suede is a band that has been directly inspired by Bowie, and they also released a new album this January. Night Thoughts is better than Bloodsports, the Suede’s (or the London Suede) previous album. Anyway, one of the songs is called “No Tomorrow”, and it’s solid. The chorus is not as great as the Suede songs of the early 90s, but the guitar hooks and lyrics are certainly vintage Suede. The lyrics of the song are depressing, as per the usual for Suede. The song is about suicide, essentially. The music video involves and old man committing suicide. His daughter comes home and fails to save him. It’s 2010s Suede, what did you expect? The song is decent though.

I really appreciate that Suede is still making good music in 2016. After seven dark years between 2003 and 2010, Suede has come back in fantastic form. The band still misses the crazy guitar playing of Bernard Butler, but Richard Oakes has done a good job in recent years. While Suede lacks the explosive, youthful energy and the Bowie-esque stylistic hallmarks of its early 1990s portfolio, they can still write good songs. Like New Order’s post-Peter Hook material and the recent Buzzcocks albums, Suede shows that the British alternative-era rockers can still kick it, even if their popularity has decreased.

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