Night Thoughts is a quintessentially Suede title: specific yet vague, a notion that seems either romantic or sad depending on perspective. Twenty years, a decade of which was spent in a split, certainly has shifted Suede's perspective, particularly that of leader Brett Anderson. In his younger years, Anderson couldn't resist the tragic but as he settles into middle age, his work bears an unmistakable undercurrent of gratitude: no longer racing against a nuclear sunset, he's meditating upon the elongated stillness of night. It's a shift of attitude, a maturation mirrored by Suede consolidating their strengths. Leaving behind frivolous trash -- it is, after all, a sound that suits the young -- Suede embrace their inherent glamorous grandeur, playing miniatures as if they were epics while reining in excess. In a sense, Night Thoughts functions as the Dog Man Star to Bloodsports, an album that dwarfs its predecessor in both sound and sensibility. If Dog Man Star threatened to topple upon its own ambition -- part of its charm is how it meandered into endless darkness -- that makes the precision of Night Thoughts all the more impressive; it is the work of a band whose members know precisely how to execute their ideas. Here, the longest epic crests just over six minutes ("I Don't Know How to Reach You"), and the 12 songs seem interlocked, if not precisely conceptually then certainly thematically, with each element elegantly playing off the last. Sometimes, there are echoes of their past but this is knowing; "Like Kids" cascades like an inverted "New Generation," pulsating with the same passion but with an eye toward the past, not future. Despite this glance over the shoulder, there's a sense that Suede are happy not only to be through all the turmoil but to bear the scars of well-fought battles. With that past behind them, Suede can still dwell on big issues of love and mortality, but now that the past is in perspective, it all means a little bit more and what lies ahead is a little more precious, and that wide view makes Night Thoughts all the more moving.
Night Thoughts Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine