Suede's 2013 comeback album 'Bloodsports' was unexpectedly great. It recalled the glories of the band's heyday, reflecting the epic sensibilities of 1994's 'Dog Man Star' through the euphoric indie pop lens of 1996's 'Coming Up'. Musically and instrumentally 'Night Thoughts' is drawn from the same blueprint as 'Bloodsports', and trademark Suede motifs - extravagant guitar riffs and desolate imagery about sex and longing - abound.
The key change on album number seven is the subject matter. Gone are the cellophane sounds and narcotic highs championed by vintage Suede. Instead, the focus switches to the shifting and transient nature of love. 'Night Thoughts' documents the lives and feelings of two ill-fated lovers, loosely chronicling the descent of their love from its inception (told on lead single 'Outsiders') to its bitter, suicide-induced end (final track 'The Fur and the Feathers').
This premise provides lead singer Brett Anderson the perfect vehicle through which to channel his own musings on the unmagnificent lives of adults, and 'Night Thoughts' is bursting with wonderful vignettes about the minutiae of familial strife. 'I Can't Give Her What She Wants' and 'Like Kids' daub an imperfect picture of lovers once consumed by passion now drowning in existential dread. Elsewhere, on 'No Tomorrow' and 'When You Are Young', they long for the bygone possibilities of the past.
The album's symbolism and metaphors can be darkly beautiful. 'Outsiders' finds the star-crossed lovers "thrown like two winter roses into a broken vase", though this fiery love inevitably burns itself it out, reducing the protagonists to "cadavers in tracksuit trousers" by the time of 'No Tomorrow'. On the opener, the sweeping cinematic composition 'When You Are Young', the female lead is compared to the tragic Persephone of Greek myth, alluding to a future of subjugation that plays out as the album progresses.
Brett Anderson is the gel that holds it together. In anyone else’s hands the lyrics and melodies might sound overblown, but he maintains the ability to make bittersweet melodrama sound effortlessly cool. 'Night Thoughts' is far from easy listening, but it's further proof that Suede's renaissance shows no sign of losing momentum.
Words: Benji Taylor
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