Home Read Classic Album Review: Suicide | American Supreme

Classic Album Review: Suicide | American Supreme

The groundbreaking synth-rock duo make a confounding return after 15 long years.

This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


If you’ve never heard synth-punk duo Suicide’s mind-bending 1977 debut album, I can’t fittingly describe it to you. Suffice to say that every dark-hearted synth outfit that followed — from Soft Cell to Throbbing Gristle and Skinny Puppy — were either paying homage to them, ripping them off or both. Though few could recreate the unsettling cocktail of intimidation and psychosis Suicide brewed from Martin Rev’s malevolent keyboards and Alan Vega’s hellish rockabilly hiccups.

Want more proof theirs was a sound that can seldom be matched? Listen to American Supreme, their confounding and disappointing return to the studio after 15 years. The proto-industrial beatboxes and one-finger keyboard melodies have been replaced by funky breakbeats and hip-hop samples. That they didn’t want to repeat themselves and opted for experimentation cannot be faulted. The results, unfortunately, very much can. Vega’s disconcerting snarl has deepened into a raspy near-baritone and his lyrics have mellowed into bland poetry-slam fare. One track — Televised Executions — vaguely echoes the trippy psychedelia of The Butthole SurfersHey. The rest sound less like Gene Vincent on acid and more like Jim Morrison at karaoke night. I know I have no right to expect them to live up to their reputation after 15 years — but I didn’t expect them to tarnish it, either.