Suede: Night Thoughts (Warner Bros./Rhino) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Night Thoughts

Warner Bros./Rhino

Feb 29, 2016 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

There is a strange parallel between Suede and David Bowie. Both made comebacks in 2013 after decade-long absences-the former with Bloodsports, the latter with The Next Day. Both were warmly hailed as successes even if they did not have fans falling over themselves, and it felt fitting given that Suede were probably the closest thing Britpop ever had to Bowie’s androgynous outsider.

Fast-forward to 2016 and Suede and Bowie have both returned, albeit the latter far too briefly, with more ambitious, darker records. Better records, in fact. And while Suede’s Night Thoughts cannot match Bowie’s Blackstar for obliqueness, the two records certainly share a sense of regret and introspection.

Night Thoughts is, according to the band, intended to be listened to as a single piece of work and in their recent live shows has been played in full. If this sounds a touch pretentious it is largely because there are plenty of individual songs strong enough and hooky enough to stand on their own: the lead single, “Outsiders,” and the opening track “When You Are Young” come immediately to mind, as does “I Don’t Know How to Reach You.”

Thematically though, the album is tied together with a sense of self-flagellation. “What I’m Trying to Tell You” is a reflection on singer Brett Anderson’s personal failings: “I don’t know the meaning of much/I never make the best impressions/And I don’t have the means of expression/To explain my obsessions.” Then “I Can’t Give Her What She Wants” takes the album on a turn for the darker: “So I turn my attention to the bruise that’s on her fist/Feel the pulse beneath her almost perfect wrist,” Anderson sings.

The mood of the lyrics is reflected in the music. Again, it retains that dark tone throughout while never settling. Squalling, choppy guitars play minor chords while dovetailing with bleak electronics and ominous strings.

Blackstar was Bowie’s best album since 1995’s Outside. Another near parallel then, as Night Thoughts is Suede’s best since the similarly exploratory Dog Man Star a year earlier. (

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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