08 February 2006

suede - "to the birds" (from the sci-fi lullabies lp, available for purchase here.)

in brief : from the greatest debut single ever? or simply for the birds?

even more than my teenage years, eighteen to twenty-one were my most impressionable days, the age of the great forming. these also happened to be the days that i became confirmed in the anglophilic faith, britpop raging on those shores, registering but a blip in the home country. being impressionable, i was in the thrall of the editors of the nme and whatever product they were pushing that week. the cd's those people made me buy : gene, gomez, geneva--and that's just the g's. they had me believing that the b-sides by these acts were better, by a factor of at least three, than the complete output of the beatles & stones combined. it is w/ some trepidation, then, that i returned to suede's sci-fi lullabies.

i'm pretty sure it's still great; perhaps you all can back me on this. "to the birds," for instance, is from that legendary debut single, perhaps all told, from song one to song three, the greatest debut single since "hand in glove" / "handsome devil." now who's talking like the nme, you ask? ah, but listen to this record; recall that we now live in an era that allows you to listen to records before buying them (oh, the money i might have saved). listen to bernard butler's one man guitar army : many believe that britpop was the nail in the shoegazer's coffin, but clearly bernard learned much from kevin shields, julian swales, and mark gardener. indeed, this could be a lost ride single if not for it's determination, if not for brett anderson.

the only time brett gazes at his shoes is to make sure they match his outfit; when you only wear black leather, that's not such a difficult job of coordination. brett sings the most tremendous bullshit this side of lord byron and does so in the only way one possible can, that is, ecstatically--and w/ majestic backing by bernard et. al. that said, there is something truly grand about a chorus that goes "and i'll sing to the birds here at my side." grand and preposterous, but in equal measure, and those are the words they'll write on the band's grave. britpop's grave, too.


Anonymous said...


sigh... Suede. I lurched off to college with Suede's debut and all the singles in tow, and they were all my then girlfriend and I listened to that year...kissing in rooms to popular tunes and all that. Sophmore year's soundtrack, then, was, of course, Dog Man Star, which is pretty much my hard and fast number 3 album of all time, as bomastic, histrionic and overwraught as it may be. My own personal favorite Suede b-sides are from that album's lead single, We Are the Pigs - I'm pretty certain that Killing of a Flashboy and Whipsnade are the best one-two B-side punch in the Britpop canon (although they are jarringly unalike...almost as if they were written by two completely different bands). So...what's your take on The Tears? I'm quite enamoured of their debut, though I never listen to it... sigh...


fred said...


'dog man star' is a heavy favorite w/ me, as well. there still are cold winter days, w/ my collar turned up and a profound squint, when i listen to "the wild ones" and exhale deeply, thinking what might have been, generally speaking.

as for the tears, i think it would be difficult to improve upon your assessment. i like it but i never listen to it. (actually, i liked the live versions of songs like "the ghost of you" and "apollo 13" much better than the studio takes.)


Anonymous said...

I will concur that Sci-Fi Lullabies is pretty good.

But I also still think that Gomez is ("are", if you're reading the NME) pretty good. At least the first two albums.

Geneva generally blew, apart frome one song whose name escapes me.