The Tears reunion can be seen as an attempt by two remarkably talented but...
Jaime Gill 2005-03-23
When Bernard Butler departed Suede in 1994, he left a band at the peak of their preposterously early fame, with two extraordinary albums and some of the greatest B sides ever written as a legacy. Many onlookers at the time drew two conclusions: that this was British pop's biggest loss since Morrissey and Marr split, and that nonetheless the Anderson/Butler songwriting partnership were assured of their chapter in the great British book of pop.
Eleven years later and it hasn't quite worked out like that. Eclipsed by the Britpop era they ushered in and tarnished by the increasingly mediocre output that they've recorded since parting ways, the partnership would currently be lucky to get a footnote. Their reunion as The Tears can therefore be seen as an attempt by two remarkably talented but marginalised figures to seize back the acclaim they know they deserve.
As such, it is only a partial success. At its best, Here Come The Tears is as fearless and ambitious as Suede's masterpiece Dog Man Star. At its worst it lapses into bland mid tempo pop that a band as gifted as this really shouldn't be churning out.
Of the pop tunes on offer here, lead single "Refugees" is typical, with its stirring but faintly predictable chorus. Far better, for its sheer juggernaut catchiness, is "Lovers", the only song here that sounds like a potential crossover hit. Unfortunately there are too many moments like "Imperfection" and "Co-Star" which are perfectly listenable but completely forgettable.
Fortunately and exhilaratingly, there are also moments where Anderson and Butler regain the theatricality and strangeness at the heart of their best work. There's the apocalyptic "Brave New Century", all squalling guitars and thrashing drums while Brett Anderson stares appalled at a world which worships "sh** celebrities" and where people "spit on refugees". And on the two closing songs The Tears sound like the spectacular band they should be, with the swooning ballad "Apollo 13" and the heart shattering "A Love As Strong As Death", built on the most mournful of piano riffs and an exquisitely tender vocal.
If they can maintain their fractious alliance, this is a band who have a spectacular future ahead of them, but for now they have left us with this flawed but often beautiful record. Keep that history book open.