Britpop survivors Suede are back – again = sounding bolder, braver and better than they have in 20 years
Suedes’ 2013 comeback album ‘Bloodsports’ triumphed because it was essentially designed as an Idiot’s Guide To Suede. Released 10 years after their initial split, it removed the dirt from their soiled legacy while introducing them to a new generation, taking their trademarks – giant choruses, trashy melodrama – and distilling them into 10 solid, Suede-as-Suede-can-be songs.
As a soft reboot, it worked perfectly – and while some bands come unstuck wondering where to go next, tricky follow-ups are a Suede speciality. In 1994, they followed their self-titled debut with the staggeringly ambitious ‘Dog Man Star’, which turned its back on Britpop’s bonhomie and their own tried-and-tested formula in favour of something grander. ‘Night Thoughts’ repeats that same trick: it snubs consolidation and takes a daring, defiant leap into the unknown.
It’s not a similar sound or lyrical sentiment that ties the two albums together, though – it’s a shared adventurous spirit. ‘Dog Man Star’ was fuelled by frontman Brett Anderson imbibing oodles of hallucinogenic drugs, intent on grandiose self-destruction. Now he’s terrified by things beyond his control, worried that everything might fall apart, panicked that life is being wasted. ‘No Tomorrow’ chronicles his father’s struggle with depression, while the ‘Coming Up’-like squall of ‘I Don’t Know How To Reach You’ and taut, scuzzy guitar of ‘What I’, Trying To Tell You’ are the first two tracks in a triptych obsessed with miscommunication and frayed relationships. ‘I Can’t Give Her What She Wants’ completes the set by turning things darker still, Anderson tightening his “fingers round her perfumed throat” as delicate strings swell dangerously.
‘Outsiders’ and ‘Like Kids’ were the first two tracks to be released from the album, with crunching guitars and nods to outcasts finding solace among squalor. They’re certainly the most typical Suede songs here but they turn out to be red herrings, outnumbered by stranger beasts – from the menacing thrum of ‘When You Are Young’ to the trembling terror of ‘Tightrope’.