Celebrating The Blue Hour
Photographer credit: Dean Chalkley. Banner: Taciana
Today we are celebrating the 3rd anniversary of The Blue Hour. It's Suede's eighth studio album produced by Alan Moulder and co-produced by Neil Codling. Released on 21st September 2018 and it reached number 5 in the UK Album Chart.
“The Blue Hour is the time of day when the light is fading and night is closing in. The songs hint at a narrative but never quite reveal it and never quite explain. But as with any Suede album, it’s always about the songwriting. The band, the passion and the noise: The Blue Hour.”
- Suede, NME, 2018
We've asked fans to share their thoughts with us on The Blue Hour.
Artwork by Paul Khera & Suede
From one of the most intense and gripping album intro songs ever, The Blue Hour goes on to give us a deeper, darker Suede. However it's still brimming with the poison passion of the Suede we loved yesterday, today and forever. Beautiful to the point of exquisite pain.
- Becky d'Ugo, Malta
From The Blue Hour I would have to choose 'As One' as the most important song. They opened Sideways Festival 2019 in Helsinki with it. It had been almost 22 years since I’d seen Suede play live (Provinssirock 1997) so that song and that moment were really special.
- Johanna Järvensivu, Finland
What’s really special about The Blue Hour, in my opinion, is that even though each song is absolutely brilliant on it’s own, the album as a whole has an even greater value than the sum of its parts. Definitely not an album to put on random shuffle. Musicians don’t bother taking listeners on a journey like that anymore. It’s a rare pleasure.
- Michal Kadari, Israel
I absolutely love The Blue Hour. It is such a whole and cohesive album. Especially 'Flytipping' is the quintessence of Suede.
- Maria Spittau Dupont, Denmark
Image Courtesy of Suede & Mike Christie
I absolutely adore The Blue Hour. From Richard's soaring guitar opening of 'As One' to the climactic crescendo at the end of 'Flytipping', it is a masterpiece and a joy.
My absolute favourite Suede song of all time is 'Life is Golden'. I will never forget the first time I heard it, accompanied by the fabulous evocative video. It was a real tingle down the spine moment for me and I knew then that the song would be very important to me . I was lucky enough to be at the Cambridge 2019 gig where Brett invited the fans onto the stage to sing it with him. How many bands embrace their fans to that degree? Even though I was too shy to go up, I loved witnessing that special time. I know Brett wrote it for Lucian, but to me it will always be about the very special relationship I have with my youngest grandson. The same blood runs through our veins and we adore each other. The Blue Hour is Suede at the very top of their writing and performing powers. My absolute favourite album.
- Lin Page, UK
A few days ago, playing a lead track from a new album by a band with roughly the same mileage on the clock as Suede have, the DJ commented how this band were really "playing to their strengths." That's some praise there so faint you'd need a bluelight to be able to see it. Staying in their lane. Avoiding surprises. Working that furrow deep and narrow.
The thing that really stands out about The Blue Hour is that it's not the work of a band following Wenceslas-like in the footprints of their younger selves. It's a Suede album, it sounds like a Suede album; it hits you emotionally like a Suede album, but it's unequivocally not a Suede album that the pre-hiatus group could have made. Let other bands play to their strengths. Suede are discovering muscles they never knew they had.
- Simon Hayes-Budgen, UK
Image Courtesy of Suede & Mike Christie
My first experience of The Blue Hour was travelling on a long, lone train journey from the Midlands to Cumbria. As we passed Beyond the Outskirts of the city and zoomed through the Wastelands, the music perfectly complemented the dramatic scenery (and the odd power station, to make it more Suedey) and Life was truly Golden!
Highlights of the album for me: the creepy intro to 'As One'. 'Chalk Circles' into 'Cold Hands'; the Wind in the Willows bit (which I used as the start of a primary English lesson last year!); "You buried it over there" (always sends a bit of a shiver down my spine!); and the Oakesian majesty of 'Flytipping' to finish (before starting it all off again... I must have listened to it back-to-back at least 10 times on that journey!).
- Joolz Green, UK
This album though… You know that feeling when someone tells a story about some otherworldly thing that happened? Where you get tingles, all your hair stands on end and your eyes water? You get that strange feeling in your gut and in your head because something about hearing that chimes inside you? The opening bars of The Blue Hour did that to me. That’s how I knew in milliseconds that this whole album was going to be amazing. It delivered on that promise - and then some. Every song has some visceral spark, some feeling that twangs inside you. It’s a work of haunting, risk taking perfection that has never faded in its power, even after an obsessive amount of listens.
- Shawndra Hayes-Budgen, UK
My favorite song from The Blue Hour is 'Flytipping', which I fell in love with during the summer-fall lockdown last year. I used to listen to it while being outside during the blue hour, especially in those days when the weather was hot but the nights were slowly turning cold. It's a song that makes you experience that in a way, endings, solitude, change.
Three years since its release and The Blue Hour still takes me on such an emotional adventure. A blissful wandering through joy, melancholy, excitement, nostalgia and so much more. It's the album I listen to the most and it is particularly helpful whenever my mood needs a lift. Last, but certainly not least, it brought 'Don't Be Afraid If Nobody Loves You', into my life, which is an unending source of joy.
- Taciana, Brazil
Artwork banner by Dim Moucht
The Blue Hour is incredibly special to me, being released a day before my birthday, my first one since my Mum had passed away, it was the perfect gift, all I needed right there. The album holds me so very tightly, I love everything about it.
Happy 3rd Birthday to The Blue Hour.
- Jane Marshall, UK
For me, The Blue Hour sweeps me up in its arms and takes me on an incredible emotional journey through Suedeworld and all its dark beauty. A masterpiece.
- Samantha Hand , UK.
On my husband's birthday, September 20, 2018, I logged into Spotify in hopes that The Blue Hour would drop an hour early. Sure enough, it was midnight on the east coast but 11pm here in Chicago. That's when I heard Suede's masterpiece for the first time. I lay in bed with my earbuds, while the opening menace of 'As One' washed over me in the dark of my room. I was utterly gobsmacked, my eyes wide, my mouth open in a half-smile, as if I were a child at their first carnival. I laughed at the sheer ballsy power of the strings and the grand horror choir, because really, what the hell was that??
I forcefully kept myself from hitting Repeat and moved on to 'Wastelands'. Unfortunately, it suffered a little because 'As One' had melted my brain. (Luckily, listening on a near-hourly basis for the next few years helped sort out that discrepancy.) 'Mistress' was delicate and promised deeper meaning for future listens, while Richard's full-on rock solo in 'Beyond the Outskirts' had me laughing again. It was all so expansive, so brave, so big. I didn't know what to make of 'Chalk Circles', but I dare anyone to say they knew on their first listen! Brett's ranting second verse in 'Cold Hands' gave me that carnival-lights feeling again, as if I'd never actually heard anything by Suede before. Who were these men, daring to outdo everything that came before?
I'm fascinated now, thinking back, by the differences in my initial impressions and my impressions now, three years later, after having been fortunate enough to see all but 'Dead Bird' played live. 'Life is Golden' had already been released as a single. On that night, it was almost a barrier to get through in order to unwrap the rest of this priceless present. Now, when thinking about my children and the line "when the world puts all the winter in you," I cry almost as if on command. But over and over, I was taking punches to my creative, emotional core, flung from the raw parental emotion of 'Life is Golden' to the bizarre back-alley poetry of 'Roadkill'.
I'm not a stranger to crying when listening to music. The power can be so overwhelming that it fosters a full-blown release. Oddly enough, 'Tides' was the song that brought me to tears that night. The gargantuan build and crashing, climbing finale were too much to contain. And how to survive the slip between that and 'DBAINLY'? (Poor Sunny.) I gasped when I heard Brett in 'Dead Bird', and again when little Lucian added his innocently ominous contribution. 'All the Wild Places' was a dizzying experience as the lapsed musician in me tried to unravel the time signature. It was so complex that I couldn't hold onto those threads on the first go. Not to worry; I stayed up that night playing over and over. And as with 'Life is Golden', of course I had already heard 'The Invisibles', but in the context of the entire album, it was a whole other experience.
I had no inkling of how they could conclude an album that had started with so much bombast and traveled down so many beautiful, terrifying avenues. It ended with 'Flytipping', of course, which has become my favorite track on the album, especially if I listen to the whole of it in one sitting, where those melodic phrases return in tatters and bits. The meaning. The openness. The wild roses by the underpass. I don't know what to call the moment of crackling, crinkling guitar that Richard achieves just before Simon's huge drum drop, but I have yet to make it through that moment without goosebumps. When Neil and Mat join in with all engines firing, they create a soundscape with so many layers, so much meat and gristle and beauty--the contradictions that are Suede.
I shook my husband awake and said, rather boldly, but with never a doubt that I spoke the truth: "It's better than Dog Man Star." A week later he said, "You're right about The Blue Hour." I grinned and hit Play on 'As One' once again.
- Carrie Lofty, US
Photographer Credit: Dean Chalkley