I really like the band Suede. Brett Anderson became less and less slappable as the band eased into some very stylish writing and the aforementioned Anderson seemed more disinclined to persuade (excuse the partial pun) us that he was gay and more that he could actually front a decent band, no matter his actual sexual orientation. Suede were tagged as "Brit-pop" rather unkindly in my book, as they always seemed to stand in the shoes of such eccentric British forerunners such as Bowie and Ray Davies of Kinks fame.
"Lawton, you’re rambling," I can hear you say. "Get on with it before we release the hounds." Ok, OK, I’m getting there…just bear with me for a few moments here, because it will all make sense very shortly.
Anyway, Suede, until their recent demise, occupied a rare slot in the British music scene. They were an ensemble who were undeniably British-sounding and who could, with a few adjustments in technical limitations, be mistaken for pioneers of the 60s.
Note: With very few exceptions, most 60s music drives me to not unconvincing thoughts of suicide. Before you, gentle reader, attempt to e-mail me with apoplectic, aneurysm-inducing bluster, there were indeed some great bands who emerged from the mire of that decade. Our opinions of those gallant few are probably asynchronous, so please spare my expansive editorial team. Good evening, Mrs Goatfondler – the ignominy of your profanities.
My point in the preamble above is that Boulevard’s Octane Lovers sits squarely in the mould of Suede. Too squarely, in fact, to draw any other type of review from me. The opening chords and arrangement are (hmm, let me just plumb the depths of my diplomatic gland here) a touching homage to Suede’s Trash. Vocalist/songwriter Benji Barton makes a good fist of sounding like Brett Anderson, even throwing in some lyrics about doing stuff "while we’re young". Guitarist Robert Caruthers similarly injects some very familiar hooks and riffs into the proceedings.
I read that part of Brett Anderson’s decision to split Suede was that he felt a bit self-conscious about singing some of the lyrics of past material whilst plunging headlong towards the ripe old age of 40. The Boulevard posse should take note. Building a catalogue espousing the joys of youth may seem a bit silly when you’ve lost some or all of your hairline, started cancelling gigs because of your dodgy knees and when you feel a little frustrated when people at the garden centre keep you from buying that rosebush you’ve been promising yourself by asking for autographs.
That said, the material is extremely well produced, the musicianship is excellent and the whole thing is delivered with a large slice of self-belief and confidence. Octane Lovers is catchy, bouncy, has a decent middle eight…it’s just a shame that Brett and the boys have already done it, albeit in the form of a couple of albums.