Night Thoughts Five Years On
Suede's seventh studio album Night Thoughts turns 5 today.
In May 2013, Suede started planning the next album which would become Night Thoughts. They knew they didn't want to make Bloodsports part 2. Their vision was to take a more liberated and ambitious approach that would be a listening experience with the listener hearing the album as a whole piece.
With that in mind, it made sense that Suede didn't take the usual route of making individual videos and in October 2014 Brett was inspired with the idea of making a film. With a blank canvas, Roger Sargent embarked on making a film that took on the themes of the album without making it too literal. Choosing and changing the script as the film developed and producing an incredibly beautiful, at times, heartbreaking film which perfectly suited the soundtrack. Set partly in the breathtaking location of Treath Mawr, Newport Sands.
Treath Mawr, photo by Samantha Hand
To celebrate we've asked several fans to share their thoughts about Night Thoughts on its anniversary.
"Night Thoughts is a challenge and a promise.
From the opening notes – that deep, beautiful cello in ‘When You Were Young’ – Suede throws down a challenge. Night Thoughts is not a typical pop album, just as Suede have never been a typical pop band. Instead, it is a labyrinthine journey through dark places, where the terrors of those hours before dawn are given melody and harmony, rhythm and bass. ‘Outsiders’ is a pounding anthem for the misunderstood. ‘Tightrope’ is part wish and part prayer, as love grows its spiky thorns. ‘Pale Snow’ is a fragile flower of a song that nearly collapses under the weight of its ambition, but stunningly, like the album itself, becomes transcendent. The challenge is to listen – really listen. The challenge is to experience these vulnerable moments and to live the pain and fear of Brett’s lyrics. The challenge is to absorb the record as a collective work, in an age when single-serving tunes are de rigueur.
The promise is simple. For those who dare to dream on a grand scale, Night Thoughts is heartbreak and abandon and such bloody good music. This is an album crafted by defiant artists who are more confident than ever, who are still – year by year – coming into their own in ways that disregard expectations. There is no rest for these five gifted men, and their passion is a gift to us. They keep striving and leading us to unexpected places. That’s the promise Suede made when they released Night Thoughts. They’ve kept that promise with The Blue Hour, and I have no doubt they will offer us even more of themselves in the years ahead.
For now, it’s time to put my headphones on and turn the volume up. Be my pilots, lads. Tell me the things that scare you. Conjure the imagery. Five years ago, and still tonight, Night Thoughts gives me what I really need."
By Carrie Lofty
Five Gifted Men at Banquet Records Signing Session for Night Thoughts launch. Photo courtesy of Banquet Records.
"This is a perfect album in many ways. Since the first audition it has captivated and moved me. Not only because it has genius song sequences, but also because of the dreamlike and dramatic atmosphere in which it involves me. "Pale Snow" and "I Don't Know How to Reach You" are just two examples of a perfect song sequence. "The Fur and the Feathers" brings this cycle of songs to a magnificent close. To say that it is for me the best Suede album would be to betray other Suede albums as magnificent as this one. In my opinion, it is this dilemma that best tells us how excellent and unique Suede are as a band."
By Luisa Fonseca
Image Courtesy of Suede
"Pale Snow: When I first heard this song it broke my heart strings. The video nearly killed me, I felt like Suede had read my mind.
When I was young my parents fought like cat and dog. My dad worked at a factory and my mom was a stripper. They would go through cash like wildfire. My mom used to send me to the corner with cash and a note to buy her cigarettes (I was 7 at the time).
In May of 1976... My mom rented a Ford Pinto, took my brother and sister and left me on the tree lawn and told me to call my dad at work to say she left him.
Never saw her again after that day.
Brett's lyrics and Suede's music taught me it's ok to not be okay.
'Pale snow' still pulls at my heart.
Night Thoughts is close to home for me."
By Jaime Gonzalez
Image courtesy of Suede
"I never bought Bloodsports. I was still in a pissy moody after A New Morning, missed all the comeback gigs. I remember going to WHSmith, surprised they didn’t have Night Thoughts on file, and being told to pre-order if I wanted it. This never would’ve happened had Woolworths still been trading.
It was a Friday. I was chopping some cauliflower and other winter vegetables to make cheap soup. Closed the door between the living room and kitchen, poured a large glass of cheap red and hit play.
Towards the end of 'When You Are Young', I remember thinking: “they’ve gone and made a Dog Man Star for my 30s”.
Glasgow Concert Hall. February, 2016. My first Suede gig since 1999. Teenage Hawks kicked in. Only a few folk ahead in the queue: a quiet, carpeted area with a bar, I think. Plucked up enough courage to comment on a pair of DMs. Too shy to talk to anyone else.
Ended up stood just behind the girl who was to become my future bandmate, we shared the same name. Was still months before we talked. Lasses behind me said they’d seen Suede loads of times; my favourite band, but I’d only seen them once before. Wow.
Seeing the Night Thoughts film...I was so sure I knew that path. It looked like home: Pembrokeshire, Wales. But that would’ve been ridiculous aye? Your favourite band somehow filming their new album in your sacred place? Away with ya. Ridiculous maybe, but it was there!
Such an emotional first half...so relieved for the Hits and Treats that followed. First ever “hand hold” from Brett, to 'Sometimes I Feel I’ll Float Away', miming nonsense cause I’d never heard the fucking song before. Devastated!
After gig, hanging around the stage door, Teenage Hawks once again. The Intolerable One said we’d miss the last bus back to Edinburgh if I didn’t move. Nipped into Tesco for munchies. Saw this boy in a Suede shirt. Overcome with red wine emotion, just threw myself at him. “He” was the lovely Chris Kingshott. Rather than look at me oddly, he gave a massive hug and confirmed “it was fucking amazing wasn’t it!”.
That night changed everything."
By Sam Hawks
Glasgow 2016, photo by Sam Hawks "After the joy and quite frankly relief of Bloodsports, it took Night Thoughts to really bring me back into the Suede-iverse. I remember my first listen to 'Outsiders' (BBC6 radio) and it finally hitting me that *they were back*. That first listen to the whole album (thanks Spotify) on release day, lights down and a glass of wine in hand. It was an *event*. Nearly a decade and a half had passed since the last time I’d seen them live. I’d moved half way across the world to a small town in New Zealand. I didn’t know that I still needed this bank in my life. But I clearly did. For a milli-second, when the Bloodsports tour was announced, I had thought about travelling to Asia to see them play live. A ridiculous idea. The time. The cost. I had a one year old baby. I discarded the idea straight away. But a seed must have been planted and when the Night Thoughts Asia tour was announced, I knew I had to make it happen. This time I had two children to leave behind (in fact, the youngest had his second birthday on the night of the Hong Kong show. He doesn’t hold it against me). I had to be there. I had to hear *this album* in full. By this time, I had joined the Insatiable Ones and was relishing every snippet of information, every video from the European Tour. When the Tokyo show was announced, I sacrificed my return flight and came home via Japan, a place I had always wanted to visit. I’ve still only ever spent just over 24 hours there. But it was so worth it. This album somehow invoked the same feelings in me as a 40-something parent as they did a 20-something student and I will be forever grateful."
By Juliet Eckford
Akasaka Blitz, Tokyo 2016. Photo by Izumi Kumazawa
"Though I’d been into Suede for a long time, Nights Thoughts was the first album to be released where I got to experience brand spanking new Suede music as part of a community of like-minded and equally enthusiastic fans. Meeting up with fellow Insatiables in the queue and inside the venue before the show started at the Roundhouse was so exciting. It’s all a giddy, nervous, anticipatory blur now but never will I forget how we all craned our necks to look up at the screen, held our breath and then gasped at those first notes when the music started. Pure moments of awe and joy."
By Shawndra Hayes-Budgen
Roundhouse 2015. Photos by Simon Budgen and Shawndra Hayes-Budgen
"So it's a sort-of concept album, and there's a film, and they're going to play along live to accompany the film, and they're doing this for the first time with an audience at The Roundhouse? Why do these boys always go for the easy option? That first time, that first night: head at a neck-cracking angle to watch the movie on the gauze, while also trying to watch what was going on behind the gauze. So much to see, so much to hear. I think we'd been teased with all of the tracks here and there before the launch night, but this was an object lesson in the whole being more than the sum of the parts. Revelatory. An unforgettable night. Unforgettable for other reasons, too: between Night Thoughts and the second set, a news alert darted around the venue. People being held hostage in a nightclub in Paris. If the first night was a celebration, the second night was something more. It was an act of solidarity. A statement of defiance. The first night we escaped into the Night Thoughts universe; the second, we were defending our world."
By Simon Budgen
Roundhouse 2015. Photo by Carlos Grajal
"I remember seeing Suede premiere their first song from the album at Nibe Festival, Denmark in July 2014. An exquisitely beautiful, spine tingling experience as 'Tightrope' was performed. In that moment, I just knew Night Thoughts would be special. 5 years later, it still takes me on an incredible emotional rollercoaster journey. To me, it is a masterpiece."
By Samantha Hand
Nibe Festival 2014. Photo by Thomas Rosenkrantz Niss "Night Thoughts...... a spiritual, deep indigo piece that has themes that thread and weave throughout it all... strings, unresolved emotions and beautiful melodies.... and mournful school bells... playing in the maze ... Youth and the pain of grown up love and lust ... but with the guitars synth and drums of a band of souls... .. I love the 'falling like leaves' back to front explosion of sound crystals..... "
By Sue Hardy