By: Chris Long
Suede | website |
There is a clichéd saying that reads that if you love something, you have to set it free. If and when it returns, it will come back stronger. So it is has been with Suede. Having limped to an ignominous finale in 2003, the band reformed in 2010 and have shown just why they were so important to begin with ever since.
Yet no-one could have predicted just how good Night Thoughts is. Quite unexpectedly, given that it is a semi-conecpt piece that comes complete in live shows with an album-long film to perform before, it is their best album for two decades.
It is vintage Suede, all bold chest-out strutting splendour and strident moments just begging to be accompanied with an arse-slapped tambourine. Of course, they had little to prove after the splendid 2013 comeback Bloodsports, which sounded at once like both a vibrantly relevant piece and the album that should have followed 1996’s Coming Up.
Night Thoughts is even better. A hip-swinging, high-kicking explosion, borne out of the freshness that imbued Bloodsports but with an added string of freedom that is simply the sound of a band enjoying themselves. Beginning with the stall-setting epic sweep of ‘When You Are Young’ – which gets reprised in true cinematic style on the penultimate ‘When You Were Young’ – the album bursts into sparkling life on ‘Outsiders’, a track that soars and kicks like Pegasus on coke on its way to a place beside the likes of ‘Animal Nitrate’ and ‘Trash’.
It is the most textbook Suede of all the tracks on Night Thoughts, but far from the only one that upcycles past glories into glittering new jewels. ‘No Tomorrow’ and ‘Like Kids’ have echoes of the Dog Man Star era, while ‘Pale Snow’ and ‘Learning To Be’ coerce the bones of ‘My Insatiable One’ and ‘Saturday Night’ into new forms.
Not that such things mean this is a retreading of old paths, more that it shows a band so comfortable with their best tools that they are can wield them with confidence. Even Richard Oakes, who never wrote those original legends, has finally got to grips with his place in the band and delivered some classic hooks that would do his predecessor Bernard Butler proud. In short, Night Thoughts is a thrill. It sounds fresh and vivid, exuberant and ambitious. And it just shows that sometimes cliches can be right – Suede, now firmly back and pulsing with life, have never sounded better.