We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Sci-Fi Lullabies, a collection of B-sides by one-time next-big-thing Suede, isn’t all about the guitars, but it’s easy to take it that way. Maybe the most consistent set the group has released since its 1993 debut, this double CD makes a great case for the playing of Bernard Butler and his successor Richard Oakes. The feedback squeal that Butler uses to rip an ending to the early “My Insatiable One,” not to mention his scene-stealing lines through the whole cut, is as much a key to the song’s effect as singer Brett Anderson’s ambiguous narrative. Similarly, Oakes’ bedrock figures on “Young Men” smartly link Anderson’s “All the Young Dudes” update with the anthemic quality of Mott the Hoople. (Between this and Oasis’ continual plundering of “Dudes,” can a Mott reunion be far away?) Less obtuse and willful than the much-praised recent work of Radiohead, these tossaways would, in a perfect world, help re-establish Suede’s profile as a comer in America. You know, if it could happen to the Verve and all that. Don’t hold your breath waiting, though. And raise an eyebrow at the fact that some of the gems here make better impressions than some items that got more attention by virtue of their presence on Suede’s last two “real” albums. Maybe, just for a moment, Oakes should have turned down and spoken up.

—Rickey Wright