The forgotten man of '90s Brit-rock, Brett Anderson exists on the fringes -- partially by design, partially by circumstance. He's always fancied himself the doomed romantic, taking pleasure in being ostracized, but the thing about being out of the mainstream is that eventually people stop paying attention, even fans. That happened with Anderson with his straight and sober 2007 solo debut, a record that could have brought wayward Suede fans back aboard -- although if they didn't pay attention to Anderson's reunion with Bernard Butler in the Tears, why would they start there? -- but it was roundly ignored, so he's beat a retreat, not back to the decaying gothic mansion of Dog Man Star, but leaving the city altogether and settling in the Wilderness. Anderson wrote and recorded Wilderness quickly, completing the whole thing within a week, and it has an immediacy that stands in stark contrast to the careful, deliberate Brett Anderson. Immediacy suggests that this is a rock album, which it most certainly is not: it's a stark, solemn cousin of PJ Harvey's White Chalk, but it's not as harrowing as that creepily intimate collection. Anderson always prefers wistful sighs to deep melancholy, and that gives Wilderness a bit of warmth, even if its stark surroundings -- often there's not much more than a piano and some strings providing support -- certainly place the music at a bit of a remove, forcing the listener to meet the album on its own terms. And while those terms are certainly different than those of Brett Anderson or latter-day Suede, this comes the closest to capturing the underlying haunted romanticism of Suede at its peak. For those who are still paying attention, it's actually quite nice to hear Anderson reconnecting to that initial spark while finding ways to experiment. It may not make him a star again, but Wilderness does find Brett Anderson creatively revitalized.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine