‘Night Thoughts’ is Suede’s 7th album, and the second since getting back together, and follows previous album ‘Bloodsports’ by two years. Recorded mainly in Brussels and also in London and featuring a full string section, the album is very cinematic in its approach, so much so that the album is accompanied by a full length feature film that runs alongside the songs.
The orchestra leads the album in, introducing the filmic ‘When You Are Young’. There’s no rosy sentimentality here, Suede always present things a little gritty, touched with regret and dirt. ‘Outsiders’ follows, a much more guitar lead typical Suede anthem, very redolent of classic 2nd era Suede, as is ‘No Tomorrow’, and the albums fist pumping defiant pose is struck. And it works. The songs are far more immediate than the previous (very good) album, it’s great to hear a re-formed band creating as vitally as their initial run was. If the pace does slow down through ‘Pale Snow’ (spacey synths and moody atmospherics) and ‘I Don’t Know How To Reach You’ (more measured in pace, but still taut and vital) then the quality doesn’t. ‘What I’m Trying To tell You’ was first presented last year at the NME’s awards show, and it was a glorious atypical Suede cruncher, an instant classic. Here the pace and feel is more metronomic, more mechanical. Still, that’s always been a Suede ploy, and the chorus cannot be dulled, the songs finds a place as a more polished finished article and is thankfully, an album highlight.
‘Tightrope’ crawls in on broken guitar, sparse keyboards and smooth bass, the voice completing the songs first cycle before the drums finish the build. This could be even be first album era Suede, and seven songs in and I still don’t think I’ve heard the word gasoline in the lyrics yet, though we have had cellophane and cars, and chemicals are on their way. The seamless link into ‘Learning To Be’ passes in a blink, as does the soft song, before ‘Like Kids’ caresses your ears with a gentle childlike lalala intro, a song lyrically and musically not such a distant relative of ‘Trash’, no bad thing, and it’s fresh enough to avoid paying homage to its predecessor, in fact it’s another highlight on this lean, no waste, mean album. Some more kiddie-choral nahnahnah’s see the track out and into ‘I Can’t Give Her What She Wants’. It’s an eerie love song, with a murderous undercurrent of resigned defeat. The albums first track is then resurrected as ‘When You Were Young’, a far more reflective mood piece that the earlier song, dialogue samples, and thunderous orchestra carrying the album towards its crescendo. Which arrives in the form of closer ‘The Fur And The Feathers’. If this sounds like a pub name, then it could well be, as the main hook also namechecks the fox and the geese! It summarises the albums central themes, the first flush of youthful romance and the emptiness when things don’t work out. Another main lyrical hook, ‘It’s the thrill of the chase’ could well have been this songs title. It’s grandiose and epic, vital and real.
’Bloodsports’ may well have shown us that there was life in Suede as an ongoing creative unit, and now ‘Night Thoughts’ completely justifies the band decision to effectively have a second career. If you love ‘Suede’ and ‘Coming Up’ especially and found ‘Bloodsports’ promising or pleasing then you’ll love this too. It’s a first meets third via the sixth. And it’s great.