Suede, responsible for setting the trend of Britpop, emerge from their crack and fatigue-induced 3-year slumber after Coming Up and decide to follow the latest trend of mixing half-rock/half-electronic (ie. the Smashing Pumpkins, R.E.M.) to (predictably) ghastly results. The cover and double entendre of the title are indicative of the product therein. My favorite part from Drowned in Sound‘s Andrzej Lukowski’s review of the album’s reissue: “Working with producer Steve Osbourne, the plan – according to Anderson’s sleevenotes – was for an electronic album that built on iconic Coming Up B-side ‘Europe is Our Playground’. In fact nothing on here sounds anything like ‘Europe is Our Playground.’”
Now, Coming Up was overproduced – drenched in gloss and reverb – but it had a few tunes (“Trash,” “By the Sea”) to justify; Head Music sounds even worse to belie the fact that there are no tunes. It gets to the point that when you reach the acoustic filler “Crack in the Union Jack,” you immediately forgive its existence as filler because at least it sounds okay (something similar happens on the following A New Morning – which makes this one seem like a Godsend – when you hit “Morning”). (Brett Anderson suggests replacing “Crack in the Union Jack” with b-side “Heroin,” which is basically the same song with a more direct subject matter.) The worst offenders: “Electricity,” which opens with non-harmonies and non-melodies that bully you into submission and “Elephant Man,” a conscious rocker that doesn’t rock. Everyone knows about the couplet, “She live in a house / She stupid as a mouse” from “Savoir Fair,” but I’m more offended by Brett Anderson’s rhyming “(ob)scene” with “machine” as if “Killing of a Flash Boy” never happened. The string-scapes of “Everything Will Flow,” “She’s in Fashion” and “Indian Strings” all sound the same, but at least they try something different; “Down” is a dirge, but an inoffensive one.