Suede’s 2013 album Bloodsports was a sensational comeback for a band whose last album, 2002’s underwhelming A New Morning seemed destined to be a flat end to what was a wonderful catalogue. Bloodsports showed that Suede were far from finished and the subsequent tour reminded us just how enthralling they are live. Happily, Night Thoughts proves that Bloodsports wasn’t a one off and indeed, it trumps that album, reaching heights the band haven’t reached since the seminal Dog Man Star which remains one of my favourite albums of all time.
Night Thoughts opens very much in a Dog Man Star way with the brooding, string laden When You Are Young. Ominous strings open the track, sinster and dark, before the guitar lines burst in and layers of sound are added. There’s the same apocalyptic feel as is present on Introducing The Band albeit this time with children’s voices singing you out of the song rather than the Brett Anderson robot that ends that track”. It’s a captivating start and it leads straight into Outsiders, the first track to be released from the album. It’s classic Suede – a huge” Suede do their own interpretation of pop” song with a wonderful post punk guitar line running throughout.
Outsiders is one example of the two types of track on display here – urgent, guitar driven glam pop. The wonderful Bowie like No Tomorrow and Like Kids are other examples. Few bands do this sort of music this well. On these tracks, Suede sound as urgent and as vital as they ever have done, crackling with energy as they did on the likes of So Young and Animal Nitrate.
The other type of track here is the slower, darker type. Pale Snow is one such track with its dark strings and ambient atmosphere once again recalling Dog Man Star in scope. Tightrope and I Don’t Know How To Reach You have a similar vibe to them with the former a particular highpoint, showcasing Suede’s ability to craft dark, romantic ballads in a way very few others can., The way it builds to its climax is thrilling.
The penultimate track, When You Were Young, acts as a reprise of the opening track before the closer The Fur & The Feathers arrives, bringing the album to a beautiful end. I’m going to wear out the Dog Man Star comparisons soon, but this track reminds me of that album’s epic closer Still Life. It starts out as an icy, atmospheric ballad before building to an intense, pounding finale that fades out slowly. A wonderful end to a wonderful album.
Night Thoughts is a supremely confident record and one that should see Suede restored to full national treasure status. While their contemporaries continue to split, reform and put out under par “will this do?” releases, Suede continue to innovate, experiment and ultimately thrill.