It’s been nearly a quarter of a century since Suede introduced Brit-pop to the world on a 1992 Melody Maker cover that dubbed them “the best new band in Britain.” The London outfit went on to release a series of U.K. chart-toppers, only to fall victim to changing tastes toward the end of the Nineties; by the end of the seven-year hiatus that followed, pop culture had all but forgotten about one of the previous decade’s most essential alt-glam acts. After Night Thoughts, however, no one will forget Suede: It’s their most cohesive album to date, putting a decisively modern twist on their definitive Brit-pop.
Over the years, Suede’s lyrical concerns have ranged from bad sex and sordid drug use to the mundane trials of parenthood. In 2016, the band tackles tough and intimate topics like existentialism, love and mortality with a fearlessness that feels more rock & roll than ever. They’ve even gone as far as conceptualizing their music into a feature film directed by photographer Roger Sargent. The film, which is being released along with the LP, combines realism with surrealism in a story about the day-to-day struggle of keeping one’s head above water (quite literal in a series of ocean scenes).
True to its title, Night Thoughts is about the fears and doubts that keep Suede up at night. The vulnerable human psyche takes center stage as singer Brett Anderson brings alienation, death and uncertainty (see the evocative “No Tomorrow”) to vivid life. Throughout, Anderson keeps his emotions set to high, with every breath between words accentuated for a maximum gut-punch feeling. The swirls and echoes of reverb-laden guitar and a full string session only make the words hit harder. On “I Don’t Know How to Reach You,” a sterling example of Anderson’s wide-ranging vocals, he cries: “Tell me the things that scare you, touch me with terror’s flame, fill me with hesitation – again.” It’s a moment of peak drama on Suede’s realest, most human effort yet.