Expectation when bands reform to release new material is often so low that it's almost in the artist's best interest to simply tour the hits. When Suede reunited in 2010, they had little interest in either fate, and even scrapped an album's worth of material because it wasn't good enough. In the end, they released Bloodsports, an album about "the endless carnal game of love" that was so surprisingly excellent, it rivalled the band's now classic first two albums.
Night Thoughts is their second album since the reunion, and seventh overall. Night Thoughts explores much darker terrain than the libidinous Bloodsports, focusing on morbid themes such as aging and decaying, both physically and emotionally. The band opt for stark minimalism to deliver the most elegiac moments: The emotion flowing through the pained lyrics of "Pale Snow" is underpinned by ambient textures, while Brett Anderson's remorseful words in "I Can't Give Her What She Wants" are lifted by Richard Oakes' delicate, cascading guitar lines. And yet, despite Anderson's stated desire to make a cohesive statement this time around, Suede have slipped in a few tracks that stand apart: first single "Outsiders" blisters with an aggressive riff by Oakes and Anderson's soaring chorus, while the giddy "No Tomorrow" and "Like Kids" come from the same pop-fuelled mindset as 1996's Coming Up.
Night Thoughts is successful in accomplishing its goal, though. Book-ended by "When You Are Going" and "The Fur & The Feathers," Suede establish and uphold the album's gravitas with the type of symphonic grandiosity we've come to anticipate from them. That everything in between falls into place accordingly demonstrates Suede are just as exciting now as they were 20 years ago. (Warner)