One of the more overtly strung-out songs from Seventeen Seconds, "At Night" is in some ways a thematic sequel to the earlier "10:15 Saturday Night," exchanging that tune's crisper edge for a decidedly more lush, downbeat approach. As on many Cure songs of the time, Lol Tolhurst's drums are the instrument most to the fore at the start, while Simon Gallup's fuzzed-out bass repeats a low, crunching hook that sounds thoroughly compressed. Robert Smith's guitar and singing in contrast feels pushed to the back of the mix, an intentionally distanced approach that suits the mood of "watching the hours go by." Matthieu Hartley's keyboards add a soft counterhook to the proceedings, making it one of his better efforts in his brief tenure with the group. The second verse structure of the song adds a lightly ascending chord structure in contrast, not noticeably brighter but still quietly effective, even as Smith's lyrics detail what could be anything from insomnia to emotionally overwrought states of mind.