Strings, sacrificial drums, towering atmospherics, running themes, reprises, an accompanying film… As the rest of rock scurries to condense its charms into sync-friendly Shazamable nuggets, Britpop pioneers and eternal outsiders Suede slice gloriously against the grain once more with a grandiose semi-concept seventh album that demands to be consumed as a complete piece of art.
A sister piece to their seminal 1994 second album Dog Man Star, but with hard drugs and slumland decadence replaced by soggy nappies and middle-aged decay, it tackles parenthood and the yawning generation gap, but framed in the arch pomp and preen of their 90s prime.
Animal Nightnurse? A little, but Night Thoughts slips down the refined pop gullet like fine malt. Like Kids and Outsiders will please fans of Beautiful Ones and Everything Will Flow respectively, but much of the rest of the record is enveloped in a misty glower, with singer Brett Anderson cast as the dandy in the lake wailing languid torch-songs and icy laments: I Can’t Give Her What She Wants, Pale Snow, the palatial When You Are Young and its late-album counterpoint When You Were Young both sounding like the entrance of an Ancient Egyptian emperor.
Here, the album reaches career peaks; Tightrope is amongst their finest-wrought ballads and Wagnerian closer The Fur And The Feathers, a new entry in their impressive canon of bombastic finales, matches Still Life in its potential to demolish opera houses. Nocturnal magnificence; for Suede, it’s always grandest just before the dawn.