The Drowners

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Suede unveiled its stately glam sound in 1993, touching off the new wave of Britpop (Blur, Oasis, The Verve and Radiohead to follow).

"The Drowners" itself is a raucous anthem, lassoed by Bernard Butler's punctuated guitar riff. Singer Brett Anderson's ambiguous lyrics ("We kiss in his room/to a popular tune") and high-pitched croon recall Bowie's most theatrical moments, but in a different musical setting.

The three non-album studio tracks on the EP are fine examples of the Anderson/Butler songwriting collaboration, which produced great material early in the band's career but diminished as the relationship between the two disintegrated (Butler left the band in 1994). "My Insatiable One" and "To the Birds" are regal pop tunes in the vein of the title track, Butler's guitar propelling Anderson's soaring vocals. "The Big Time" is slower and sorrowful; a lonely jazz trumpet sheds tears in the bridge.

On "He's Dead," recorded live at Glastonbury, Butler shows off his chops with a wrenching guitar solo kept on pace by Simon Gilbert's forceful drumming.

The Drowners EP can serve as an inexpensive intro to the band's early sound or a bonus for fans. The non-album tracks are quite worth the price of admission (that is, of course, assuming one has not purchased subsequent double-disc b-sides orgy Sci-Fi Lullabies).

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