I had [foolishly] dismissed Suede as an empty hype due to actually reading the NME buildup in real-time. A friend had given me an air-mail subscription as a birthday present. I would never have bought the NME. Once I finally heard this less than titanic band’s “Animal Nitrate” single, I ignored them for years. Until college radio playing “She’s In Fashion” finally turned my heard in 1999 and I wasted no time in diving into their oeuvre. Mea culpa. The tepid followup, “A New Morning,” precipitated a 2003 breakup. Seven years later the band reconvened and made a great new album in 2013’s “Bloodsports.” Three years later “Night Thoughts” appeared and now it’s finally in the Record Cell.
# 6 • [The London] Suede: Night Thoughts US CD+DVD 
- When You Are Young
- No Tomorrow
- Pale Snow
- I Don’t Know How To Reach You
- What I’m Trying To Tell You
- Learning To Be
- Like Kids
- I Can’t Give Her What She Wants
- When You Were Young
- The Fur And The Feathers
Dating back to their “Dog Man Star” sophomore album, the band had established a precedent for a cinematic showstopper of an album closer in “Still Life.” Here, they subverted that expectation by opening the album with a full-on orchestral arrangement sounding like “Ocean Rain” era Bunnyman to these ears. Unlike the nearly 15 minute song cycle that capped “Dog Man Star,” “When You Are Young” made its point succinctly, before quickly segueing into the next number, as all of there songs were mixed together.
“Outsiders” was a neo-classic which soft-pedaled the string section and amped up the rock crunch with a melancholy pop blend that was pure mid-period Suede. The heart-breaking falsetto attack of Brett Anderson on the refrains of “No Tomorrow” were another shot straight from the heart of Suede that managed to sound like the hit single that never was from the album. [There was a DL single in Europe, but does that count?]
The brief ballad “Pale Snow” was suffused with a theatrical melodrama of the sort that Suede excelled at. The songs here were filled with heartbreaking melodies from the pens of guitarist Richard Oakes and keyboardist Neil Codling, but the more cinematic tracks weren’t strictly Codling written any more than the guitar-driven tunes could be traced back to Oakes. “Pale Snow” was one of the four jointly written tracks here and it’s far from being one of the guitar rockers here.
Actually, the album is not necessarily thick on the ground with those. This was, for the mast part, a selection of mid-tempo material that was heavy on the melodrama. It’s a lot closer to your mental impression of “God Man Star” than “Coming Up.” But like “Outsiders,” the other single “Just Kids” was a soaring anthem of the sort that managed to eke out an optimistic shelf on which to build a few dreams that might see the light of day in the normally downcast world Suede inhabited.
The production by longtime producer Ed Buller knows how to capture the pathos and heartbreak of these now middle aged guttersnipes. The melancholy swirl of it all served notice that Suede were consistently firing on all cylinders after the smothering indifference of “A New Morning” was definitely put behind them with this second accomplished album in a row. The synthetic glam of “Head Music” is now a memory as the band have focused their energies on exploring the foundation the band built with their second and third albums in a depth that primarily favored the cinematic chiaroscuro of “Dog Man Star.” Their new album, “The Blue Hour” was just released a week ago and let’s see how long it takes until I can find a copy to buy.
This is a great album–and “No Tomorrow” is astoundingly good (the video is heartbreaking, too).
Steve – The DVD is a narrative film and not a music video, yes?
I can’t say I’m a big fan of the band, but for some reason I decided to listen to this album on Spotify not long after it came out, and I loved it. The guitar work is outstanding, the and melodies throughout are memorable. There is a great sense of drama and tension that works really well. And thanks for the head’s up on the new one…I knew it was in the works but forgot to follow up. Adding it to my Spotify list now to check it out.
zoo – It’s a solid album statement with a few obvious singles in it to help move it forward. I wonder if the new album will get a US release like “Night Thoughts” did. So far, no.
Reformation Suede® has been quite an enjoyable proposition! Bloodsports was bold, Night Thoughts was simply jaw droppingly good. The Blue Hour is darkly emotional. I have listened through twice now and it’s a stirring album. Anderson seems to dig deeper than ever while the band amp up the cinematic sound. Stand out for me so far – a tie – MIstress and Wastelands.
Your typo (?) of “God Man Star” should, by all rights, be the name of a b-sides compilation from DMS. Ha!
chasinvictoria – Haste, sometimes, makes art. Not waste!