Coming Up was every bit the triumphant comeback Brett Anderson and company were expecting and it was a terrific little record, but it did suggest that Suede had begun to reach the limits of Ed Buller's production ideas, while also feeling a little superficial. The very fact that its sequel was produced by Steve Osborne, the man behind classics LPs from New Order and Happy Mondays, suggested they were returning to the dark undercurrents of their first two records, yet Head Music is Coming Up, Pt. 2. Working with Osborne has added some vague elements of electronic and dance music to Suede's signature sound, but these primarily manifest themselves in the form of gurgling analog synths and canned, old-school drum machines. Essentially, they're just window dressing, since the songs themselves are extensions of the glam flash of Coming Up. While that hardly qualifies as an artistic progression, it hardly qualifies as a bad album either, and they've never sounded quite as unselfconscious as they do here. Suede even get downright silly at times, whether it's the goofy puns of the title track or the ridiculously intoxicating stomp "Elephant Man." It's hard not to miss early Suede -- the psychedelic "Indian Springs" comes close to capturing the feel, but it's bright, not menacing, and the ballads are pretty, not majestic -- but even in this streamlined incarnation, nobody does this kind of trash pop as alluringly as Suede. Nobody can turn out a single as thrilling as "Electricity," nobody can grind out sex'n'drugs anthems as electrifying as "Can't Get Enough," or swoon as fetchingly as "She's in Fashion." When it comes down to it, nobody makes cheap sleaze sound so alluring.
Head Music Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine