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Wilderness (Bonus Version)

Brett Anderson

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Album Review

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.

Customer Reviews

A glorious death to 90s irony - hurrah.

Brett Anderson exists in a world of his own - a place somewhere outside of modern pop music where only a few people live and they are all from a time long ago; Scott Walker, Marc Almond, Nick Cave maybe, Tindersticks....music made without irony and actually refreshing for that very reason. This album is basically Still Life from the second Suede album somehow expanded and stripped down. It's all piano and pain, pretentious and pompous, but wonderfully so. The melodies are strong and make the pretentions totally forgivable. There is no glammy Suede thrashouts here, and they are not missed. That was all so 1999. You've got the Ting Tings, Vampire Weekend, the Kooks or whatever for all that nonsense now. Best songs are 'A Different Place', 'Clowns' [a different version of the 'Love Is Dead' b side], 'Back To You' and 'P Marius'. Fred Ball - who duets here - is female btw.

Better than the last one, but still no cigar.

This new solo album by Brett Anderson seems a bit more like an expanded EP than a full album per se. Not to worry though, as there is some great potential within the material here. Sadly Brett Anderson has let production sully his work again. The intentions were pure; his first solo album (produced by Fred Ball) was slated for it's bland production. Odd considering the quirkiness of Fred Ball's "Pleasure" albums. Seeming to take note of the criticism, Anderson follows on from his recent stripped down live performances - with only piano, minimal guiar and a cello. It should work, and in many places it does - but the recording of the vocals is abysmal in places. Several plosives hound the vocal tracks, and the listener is left fearing any words with "p" or "b". A pop shield wouldn't have cost much Brett. Lyrically Brett does not mention "leaves" - bravo! Sadly, he has replaced one of his favourite words with "blossom" and various other gardeny words - not quite the leap one would have hoped for. Fair enough though; Anderson is now 40 years old and I am sure he is as aware of his artistic failings as anyone is. So what has he done? Well, wisely, he has stuck to what he is good at; singing and melody. Forgetting the poor recording of the vocals, there are some wonderful tunes on this album; Different Place (Lennon-esque almost), Chinese Whispers (but maybe it is a little too like 'To The Winter'), P Marius, Knife Edge and the superb Funeral Mantra. The latter is possibly the best track on the album; sounding like Dog Man Star Suede (think 'Introducing the band') meeting Kate Bush. Poor moments? Do we really need another version of "Back to You"? No. The best version was always the first one to appear on Fred Ball's Pleasure 2 album. He then went and re-recorded an MOR version which got nowhere and now this, a dull duet version. Hmmm. 'Blessed' seems to be a fan's favourite - why one earth I do not know. It is another dull song for his stunner of a fiance. It is also a retread of "Obsessions" (Suede) and "Imperfection"(The Tears) lyrically. The same old song Brett. The same old song. 'Clowns' is re-recorded here for goodness knows what reason, not being a touch on the original Love is Dead b-side. So? about an EPs worth of good songs, filled up with a couple of old ones to make an album. Brett, just release and EP next time eh?

England's only proper ROCK STAR

Brett Anderson seems to have emerged from the 1990s with his dignity intact. Lord knows how considering some of his habits have been the ones that can end in tragedy.. or great music.. cue D.M.S.. and he's still capable of penning some of the best, most touching, most relevant popular music without imploding in a frenzied, beery mesh of nonsense tunes in order to keep in with 'the kids'. Unlike his contemporary pop-mates & non-mates, Anderson always liked the people he wrote about/for. In a sense then its odd that now where he's going insular again he's coming up with less in the net. Perhaps he's hit his own happiness wall, and a life of jaeger modelling contracts & a beautiful beau have left the inevitable mark. A little too self satisfied perhaps where once he wrote about skeletons in the back of cabs with doves in their heads, he's now reciting blind departure boards and referencing a shinier, richer lifestyle which we few who followed him from our nowhere towns, with our assymetrical haircuts, and our love of grubby beauty can only grimace (and envy) at. Still, when all's said and done I'd buy this man's work if he was breaking wind into a plastic beaker.

Biography

Born: 29 September 1967 in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, Engl

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

When Suede released their self-titled debut album in 1993, vocalist Brett Anderson endeared himself to U.K. critics longing for another David Bowie or Morrissey. Born in Haywards Heath, England on September 29, 1967, Anderson was named after the character Lord Brett Sinclair from the TV series The Persuaders. Anderson spent much of his childhood playing sports but fantasized about becoming a rock star. In his teens, he played guitar for garage bands such as the Pigs and Geoff, the latter featuring...
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Wilderness (Bonus Version), Brett Anderson
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