CD Review: Brett Anderson, Brett Anderson (Drowned In Sound, 2007)

I’ve received in my post bag a 5-track sampler from Brett Anderson’s forthcoming solo album (March 26, Drowned in Sound). Some of you may remember that I’ve been anticipating this record for a while as I was a huge Suede fan, I thought The Tears album was very good and I do genuinely think that Brett has a good album left in him somewhere. This record, however, if the promo sampler represents the highlights, is not it by a huge margin.

The lead single “Love Is Dead” is a soft, wave-your-hands-in-the-air ballad which reflects exactly the sentiment you’d expect from Brett and while it’s nice enough, brings nothing special or memorable with it. In fact the lines “plastic people wearing plastic smiles” is cringeworthy enough to make the rest of the song far from convincing. It actually gets worse from there. “One Lazy Morning” could not be more Brett-by-numbers if he retitled it “(The Litter Blowing past the Dust in the Breeze) One Lazy Morning.” It sounds like it was not good enough to even make the cut as one of the appalling Coming Up b-sides that make the second disc of Sci-Fi Lullabies such a disappointment. The chorus, “One lazy morning when life is a breeze am I gonna find Jesus in me?” is lazy songwriting of the most cringeworthy variety. This is after he discusses planes flying overhead leaving vapour trails. Musically, it’s sub-A New Morning, all acoustic guitars and string arrangements which are added to try and distract from the fact that far from being unremarkable, it’s so cliched Brett it’s like he didn’t even try.

“Scorpio Rising,” the track included in Brett’s acoustic YouTube series, is actually bearable if you discount the soft-rock leanings and the fact that it actually sounds a bit like “Winds of Change” by the Scorpions. While his voice sounds really fantastic, I can’t fail to disbelieve the over-earnest vocals that are laid over more post-Coming-Up-era slow balladry and it all blends into “To the Winter” quite blandly.

By far the most entertaining track, however, is the plodding rock thump of “Dust and Rain” which kind of reminds of me the abysmal “Streetlife” off A New Morning and boasts lyrics such as, “I am the dust, you are the rain. I am the needle and you are the vein; and this is the moment that words can’t explain….” And “And your love’s like an overdose with your hands wrapped around my throat, using sex like an antidote to the pain.” If this is all the energy he can emote for his music these days, either he’s gotten very old or he’s having the same reaction to his own songwriting that I am.

Brett himself has been describing this record as very raw and very personal but I just can’t see it. These tracks feel completely soulless, as if he’s scoured his back catalogue for every cliche that his fans might expect in hopes that he could disguise the fact that his heart really is not in this record. I think if he really made the record he would like this to have been he’d have had to open himself up far more than he’s managed since around 1994, he’d stop using the same tired cliches about rain and needles and dust and breeze and trees and beauty. I think that the album that he could make and should make about his life and world now wouldn’t still sound so firmly entrenched in the music he was making over a decade ago.

Brett Anderson – Dust and Rain

Brett Anderson – One Lazy Morning

EDIT: We’ve officially received our first “cease and desist” email from Drowned in Sound records who apparently don’t like us having them there. So, the MP3’s have come down as asked.

57 Responses to “CD Review: Brett Anderson, Brett Anderson (Drowned In Sound, 2007)”

  • scott Says:

    i will also point out, the latest press photos for brett such as this one..

    are much more relaxed and mature, as opposed to previous images we have seen. this indicates that a new era has arrived in this mans life and as such his material is reflecting that, brett by numbers lyrics or not, i suspect you expectation was based upon previous material, when really, there should have been no expectation, as a solo artist is a single and new entity, regardless of previous ‘group’ work.

  • JustHipper Says:

    DKav is that you?

    Seriously, what do the photos have to do with it? The photos used on the cover and liner notes are from 2001.

    My problem with the album, after repeated listens, is not that it’s terrible per se, it is that it’s boring and musically brings nothing new to the table. The production is amateurish, with those repetitive string arrangements drowning everything else out. They’re used to bring gravitas and they just make it murky and disguise the mediocre guitar playing and the melodies which sound like they were outakes from Suede c. 2001.

    Yes, there are one or 2 songs that I like; “Intimacy” and “The Infinite Kiss” are both nice and finally shed some of the old metaphors such as the rather tired one relating love to addiction. I’ve decided I do like “To the Winter” as it’s one of the few moments where the strings work and lyrically it’s less self-pitying than most of the other tracks.

    If musically the production all sounded like “Colour of the Night,” I’d find it less self-pitying and self-indulgent and far more honest and raw, but they chose to overdo it everywhere, thereby disguising any real emotion that might be contained in the songs. Sadly, the one song where I like the production, I find the lyrics patronising and a little bit chauvenist. So, there ya go.

    And yes, I did have an expectation that wasn’t fulfilled. I thought it would sound like he’d moved on from Suede and that it might have been a bit better put together, what with everything having been recorded twice and all. But a review is always going to express prejudice – it is meant to be an opinion and it’s meant to address both the good and the bad. Sadly in this instance I’ve found more bad than good. But there are a few moments where some good songwriting shines through the muck.

  • davro Says:

    I think the comments and opinions are just a bit stupid. Everyone has their own taste and we all hear music in a different way. Maybe like me, lyrics relate to moments or experiences. I find the album a to be a mixture of everybody’s comments, some ordinary tracks but some astonishing ones, so opinions vary, who cares

  • JustHipper Says:

    Cheers Davro. You’re right. People shouldn’t get offended over someone else’s opinion of some songs or an album if they disagree.

    I’ve a review of Brett gig to do. My opinion of the gig differs from my opinion of the album. Hopefully we’ll be caught up reviewing some time in the next week, to include ATP, Brett and quite a lot of James.

  • The Indie Credential » Blog Archive » Gig Review: Brett Anderson, Manchester Royal Northern College of Music, 26th September 2008 Says:

    […] have this morning is that just over a year ago I saw you perform songs from your eponymous debut, Brett Anderson, at the Manchester Academy. Despite promoting an album you described as personal and intimate you […]

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