A Personal Project
Now free to move about the music, Alternative rock/Britpop band The London Suede challenge the conventions of snappy, pop music with what they call “cinematic meandering.” Their seventh studio album Night Thoughts contains songs that range from two minutes to over six minutes long and is accompanied by a 50-minute feature film with absolutely no dialogue. Vocalist and lyricist Brett Anderson explains the themes of this album were more personal to his own life. A lot of the subject matter related to his father’s depression, his relationship to his parents, and his relationship to his children. Further, the concepts convey fear of loss and disaster striking. The mother of film director Roger Sargent passed away a few days after he started writing the story.
The record starts with the track “When You Were Young,” which features a strong, dark, and haunting string section. It is followed by perhaps the catchiest song on the album “Outsiders,” which fits more into the alternative rock/pop genre, with more guitar than anything else. Similarly, “No Tomorrow” rides on prominent guitar riffs and an upbeat rhythm. “Pale Snow,” on the other hand, contains creepy, piercing synthesizer sounds. It’s unsettling, as none of the chord sequences repeat. Sure enough, Anderson uses songs like this one to depict pure atmosphere within the context of the album. Meanwhile, “What I’m Trying to Tell You” gets closer to the style of funk and conveys a notion of blind optimism. This is expressed by Sargent’s footage of a man singing along to the song at night. And while the film is not the most impressive — it shows pretty simple scenes and stories, it does well to fit the vision of the record, without plainly acting out the lyrics.
Overall, this album is not super striking, at least not to those who are used to packaged, straight-to-the-point pop music. But it is beautifully put together as an emotionally powerful and interesting listen.