On Monday, Brett Anderson popped up on Gideon Coe's 6Music show to offer up a couple of tracks from his new solo album. Coe asked him about the wall of male voices on the record, prompting Anderson to reveal it was all him and multi-tracking, but allowing that it did sound like he had a backing band:
We've always assumed that, since nuns are officially "brides of Christ" that that must imply that monks have some similar exclusive relationship to Jesus, but we're not going to start opening a theoretical can of ecclesiastical worms with that one.
So, how has the world been reacting this bunch of secular singing monks?
The Telegraph takes the opportunity to ponder how Anderson managed to have his face dropped from Britpop's metaphorical Mount Rushmore:
[Anderson says] "I don't think people like me. I've been making records for 15 years, and I still read personal, vitriolic things written about me. It's as if I accidentally created some alter-ego that isn't the real me, and people really react against it."
As if to remind people of Brett's central role in the birth of what eventually became Britpop, BBC News lobs up that cover of the then-controversial Select which told the "yanks to go home."
Elsewhere on the BBC's website - apparently the spineless Trust haven't yet closed bbc.co.uk down in a panic in case it harms sales of Reader's Digest - BBC Music considers the album, and finds it weeping:
Lost his edge? Pitchfork think he's lost something more upsetting:
In The News' review suggests they're also experiencing drive difficulties:
Oracle.DataAccess.Client.OracleException.HandleErrorHelper(Int32 errCode, OracleConnection conn, IntPtr opsErrCtx, OpoSqlValCtx* pOpoSqlValCtx, Object src, String procedure) +1000
Oracle.DataAccess.Client.OracleException.HandleError(Int32 errCode, OracleConnection conn, String procedure, IntPtr opsErrCtx, OpoSqlValCtx* pOpoSqlValCtx, Object src) +21
Oracle.DataAccess.Client.OracleCommand.ExecuteReader(Boolean requery, Boolean fillRequest, CommandBehavior behavior) +3112
Oracle.DataAccess.Client.OracleCommand.System.Data.IDbCommand.ExecuteReader(CommandBehavior behavior) +42
It's easy to fling "IntPtr opsErrCtx, OpoSqlValCtx*" at Anderson, but how come the Gallaghers can get away with "String procedure, IntPtr opsErrCtx" after "String procedure, IntPtr opsErrCtx" and still get treated at the Brits like they're relevant?
The Manchester Evening News suggest that rather than being a new direction, this is little more than rehab-strength Suede:
We're trying to imagine what something full of emptiness would look like. It's straining our heads a little, to be frank.
To help us, the Scotsman deploys former Suede fan Fiona Sheppard to suggest that empty fullness would be, well, a lot like Brett:
The Times' John Mulvey hopes a bad review will, at least, give Brett something to mope on for his sophomore album:
Ironically, it is Damon Albarn, Anderson’s oldest rival, whose eclecticism now marks him out as this generation’s Bowie. Anderson, meanwhile, must take solace where he can — at least another bad review gives him something new to be despondent about.
The Guardian (a newspaper, of course, that we like to read) catches the prevailing reaction and summarises it perfectly:
In other words: he does this sort of thing all the time, but at least he does do it well.
The response, then, seems to be a little lukewarm, but certainly isn't as bad as some of the reviews Anderson has had since England took against him. Channel News Asia's Today asked him how he copes with so much negative commentary:
Back when Suede were the best new band in Britain, apparently, the national papers used to hang around outside the old offices of the Evening Argus hoping to get hold of pictures of Brett dressed as a soldier in a school production when he was six. It's to his old local paper that has landed the best interview of the current press round so far. Now, foolishly, answering to The Argus, the paper gets a gruff admission from Anderson that the Suede-era man so many reviewers detect in the solo artist never really existed in the first place:
But don't let anyone in a band fool you into thinking that they don't. Nirvana are supposed to be the anti-image band but that was their image. It's about creating the myth."
The only trouble with building your own myth, as Anderson is now discovering, is it's hard as hell to live up to. The new record is pretty damn good - certainly better than anything Oasis have done in years, arguably more interesting than Good, The Bad and The Queen - but how can Anderson ever hope to outperform the ambisexual hipgod who crashed in with the Drowners?
Decide for yourself: Buy the album