When Bernard Butler left the band all those many years ago, few would have guessed that with him left the dangerous, romantic noir vibe that fueled Suede's first two albums. After all, Brett Anderson was supposed to be the Byronic prince of darkness, and without Butler around, it only made sense that he would indulge his taste for the theatrical. It didn't turn out that way, of course. The band hired young Richard Oakes and refashioned themselves as a glammy, fizzy guitar pop band whose elegantly wasted ballads were tales of love found, not love lost. Suede's fifth album, A New Morning, confirms that this band isn't about to release another Dog Man Star anytime soon, or even turn out a "Whipsnade," since they're now all about "Positivity," as the opening track and lead single crisply announces. Once that disappointment fades -- Suede did tragic romantic better than anybody, and it's hard not to wish they still did it -- it's easy to appreciate A New Morning as another solid, succinct collection of tuneful, stylish modern-day glam pop, nearly the equal of Coming Up, whose blueprint this follows to a tee. Song for song, it's better and more consistent than Head Music -- whose dabbling in vague electronic now seems mildly dated and whose songwriting seems slight -- thanks partially to Stephen Street's focused, flattering production, but also due to a sharp set of songs, highlighted not just by "Positivity," "Lost in TV," "When the Rain Falls" (where the piano sounds lifted from a Vince Guaraldi Peanuts special), and "Lonely Girls," but a triptych of songs that inexplicably borrow their titles from classic rock songs ("Beautiful Loser," "Street Life," "One Hit to the Body"). Plus, there's no denying that Suede does this music better than anybody else (and they sound both loose and muscular here), and that Anderson's voice is aging marvelously, sounding quite fetching with a slight hint of booze and tobacco wear. So, A New Morning isn't a new beginning, nor does it take many risks, but it does find Suede in top form with good songs and an appealing record. You might wish that it was a little more than that, but you'll be satisfied by what it is.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine