In the wake of David Bowie’s death, there has been widespread praise of his unparalleled musical influence. One needs to look no further for evidence of this than indie-rock stalwarts Suede. Built around the glam theatrics and androgyny of Bowie’s Ziggy days, frontman Brett Anderson is a living embodiment of Bowie’s legacy. Suede’s seventh album ‘Night Thoughts’, is a much-needed instalment of quality indie-rock. Falling somewhere between trashy debut ‘The Drowners’ and dark masterpiece ‘Dog Man Star’, ‘Night Thoughts’ fuses the two together in grandiose style.
From the moment the strings explode into life on opening track ‘When you are young’, an orchestral, lavish fire is lit, which roars through the remainder of the album. The lyrics throughout ‘Night Thoughts’ could be interpreted as some kind of mid-life crisis for Brett Anderson, sometimes lamenting his past mistakes, sometimes donning rose-tinted specs to rejoice the naïve opportunism of youth. The latter is deployed on the first track, Anderson yearning in trademark howl that: “When you are young//there is nothing right//there is nothing wrong”. Brett Anderson’s age appears to be corroding his soul on the vintage ‘No Tomorrow’, as Richard Oakes’ glammy guitar struts in, make-up and all. Brett damns his wavering thirst for life: “How long will it take//to break the plans that I never make”, before he breaks into a rallying cry against wasting your days away.
Anderson touches on his former heroin problem on the wispy ‘Pale Snow’, still haunted by his toxic former demons: “the colour of your skin//pale and paper thin”. This reflexivity continues onto ‘I don’t know how to reach you’, a dewy-eyed guitar tone evolves into an emphatic roar, as Anderson decides mistakes are better left in the past: “I turn away from my mistakes//I fold the page and close the book”, a climatic ending ensues which is possibly a tad overblown. The chorus of ‘What I’m trying to tell you’ is one of Suede’s finest sing-along moments, with a chiming synth melody setting a vivid, emotive atmosphere. The duo of ‘Tightrope’ and ‘Learning to be’ are unremarkable, steady tracks contributing to the sentiment of the LP. Suede’s love of glam is gorged upon in ‘Like Kids’, the band sounding like the secret love children of Aladdin Sane and Mark Bolan all grown up. Here Anderson is longing for the joyful carelessness “nothing matters but this moment”, and misplaced fearlessness of youth “ooh it’s all there for us//ooh it belongs to us”.
After this giddy joy, Suede hurtle back down to earth with the sobering ‘I can’t give her what she wants’, a mellow acoustic ballad facing the realisation that however undying your love, it doesn’t mask the fact that sometimes you’re just not what she wants. ‘When you were young’ sees the frontman looking back over his shoulder, in a sepia-toned slant on the opening track, anthemic strings tug at the heart, while Simon Gilbert’s crashing symbols fortify the ensuing grandeur. On such a romanticised album, ‘The Fur and the feathers’ is a predictable, fitting, coup de grâce. A wide-eyed, lovestruck piano carries the song, while Anderson delivers a touching vocal performance of vivid storytelling, encapsulating the euphoric sickness of love “on the platform you are waiting//and my breathing stops//I’m so scared of touching you//and so scared of not”.
Suede flex their tried and tested indie-rock muscles on ‘Night Thoughts’ to masterful effect, delivering a powerful LP. Emotionally atmospheric and anthemic in equal measure, Suede do not shatter any new boundaries on their seventh album, but their tried and tested formula makes for a compelling listen.