A New Morning is the fifth studio album by English alternative rock band Suede, released in September 2002. By the time the album was released, public interest in the band had waned, as shown by the poor charting of both the album and singles. Despite this, however, the album received moderate praise from critics. It is the only Suede album not to be released in the US. It was the last studio album released by the band before their seven-year hiatus and reunion in 2010.
The creation of Suede's fifth studio album A New Morning, was long and costly. Following the release of their 1999 album Head Music and subsequent tour, keyboardist Neil Codling announced his departure from the group on 23 March 2001, citing problems with Chronic fatigue syndrome. Singer Brett Anderson was furious at Codling's leaving, but understood the reasons behind his departure: "He couldn't help it, I know, but I did feel aggrieved. I felt let down. But more at the universe than at Neil." Codling was replaced by former Strangelove keyboardist Alex Lee.
Anderson also had become sober for this record, overcoming his crack addiction and claiming that A New Morning was "the first ever Suede record that wasn't influenced in its making by drugs." Anderson wrote lyrics isolated in a country house in Surrey away from the rest of the band, where he immersed himself in music and literature. He read Atomised by Michel Houellebecq and books by Albert Camus, Leonard Cohen and Paul Auster. Anderson says, "I created a deliberate vacuum so all these influences would flood in. I spent a lot of time walking in the countryside, sometimes for hours and hours, fascinated by nature and its battle with concrete and steel. I was living in Concrete Island by J.G. Ballard."
The band began recording demos at Stanbridge Farm Studios in West Sussex in July 2000. In October the band took a break from writing to perform their only gig of the year, which took place in Reykjavík, Iceland, where they premiered nine new songs. The group originally began working with American producer Tony Hoffer in 2001, and anticipated having a single released by Autumn. Hoffer and Anderson had originally met in a toilet at Paisley Park in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where the two hit it off, finding several common musical interests. The meeting led to Anderson asking for Hoffer's input on some of the group's recent work.
In February 2001 the band took up residency at Rockfield Studios in Monmouth, Wales for a three-week trial run with Hoffer. The band were unimpressed with the trial run, especially Simon Gilbert and Richard Oakes, who both had strong opinions on the results. Nevertheless, the band decided to record the album with Hoffer and descended on Parkgate Studios, Hastings, in May with their new member Alex Lee, following Codling's departure. Although the group recorded ten songs with Hoffer that Anderson said were the "best we've written," most of the material recorded with him producing was scrapped. In September the group recorded two songs with ex The Stone Roses producer John Leckie. The versions of "Beautiful Loser" and "Positivity" were promising, however, Leckie had other commitments forcing Suede to reconsider their options.
The group ultimately decided to work with Stephen Street, who was known for his collaborations with The Smiths and Blur. With Street, the band recorded most of the released material in two months. All the songs from the album were produced by Street, except "Positivity" which was produced by John Leckie, and "You Belong to Me" which was produced by Dave Eringa. Recording with Street began in January 2002, with the album finally being completed on 23 March 2002. Anderson had high praise for the producer, saying "Stephen has just turned this whole album around, he really has. Every song he's just taken and done something special with... From the millions of other sessions we've done for this album, there's just no comparison."
Overall, seven different recording studios and four producers were used during the two-year recording span for A New Morning, and costs estimated at around £1 million. Street stated that the album was a return to classic song construction, and bassist Mat Osman said that lyrically A New Morning is "very positive and upbeat."
A New Morning peaked at number 24, which is the lowest chart position of all the band's studio albums. The album remains the only studio album from Suede's catalogue not to be released in the US. The lead single for the album was "Positivity", which received a large amount of criticism from fans and the press. NME writer Julian Marshall wrote that "Positivity" was "[G]reeted with an apathetic shrug by everyone but the most devoted." Although it peaked at No. 16 on the charts and Anderson initially felt happy about the song, his feelings towards it would change in time. He later said of "Positivity" that "When I first wrote it I thought it was a masterpiece but soon realized that many people were genuinely offended by it." "Obsessions" was the second single released and despite being better received than "Positivity", the song charted at a lower position and was ultimately the final single released from the album.
Despite the poor sales of the album, Suede still managed to deliver on a musical front. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, A New Morning has an average score of 65 based on 8 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews." Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic felt that the album was a "solid, succinct collection of tuneful, stylish modern-day glam pop." He concluded by saying that "A New Morning isn't a new beginning, nor does it take many risks, but it does find Suede in top form with good songs and an appealing record." Jason Fox of NME gave the album 7 out of 10. He said: "when Suede are good, they're great. 'Astrogirl' has shades of the almighty 'The Asphalt World'; 'When The Rain Falls' is as mournful as 'The Big Time'." On the album as a whole he said: "A New Morning sees Suede show off their vulnerable side again. It won't attract any new admirers but old fans will love them more for it." The Guardian's Steve Poole awarded it 3 stars out of 5. He said that "'Beautiful Loser' and 'Astrogirl' gesture at past glories like 'Heroine' or 'The Chemistry Between Us', but lack that assured melodic grandiosity." He did have positive praise for the album saying: "there are moments of beauty, in 'Untitled' and the delicate miniature 'Morning'."
As the only Suede album not to be released in the US, there were no reviews from any US media. However, the album was widely covered by the Canadian music press, were it was met with a mixed reception. Rob Bolton of Exclaim! wrote: "Here, we find the swaggering London lads returning to the sound that worked so well on Coming Up. Unfortunately, the songs seem a little lacklustre, and Brett Anderson's voice struggles, at times, showing the signs of age and abuse." However, he felt that it was a better record than Head Music and said that "there are tracks like 'Obsessions' and 'One Hit To The Body' that recall what made Suede the trend-setting band that they were." Mike Bell at Canadian music site Jam! was harshly critical, writing: "Gone are most of the theatrics. Gone, too, is the powerful whine in Anderson's voice, and all that's left are quite silly faux clever lyrics and debatable melodies." The Montreal Mirror also gave a mixed review. Lorraine Carpenter rated the album 6 out of 10 and said that "Suede’s fifth album is tainted by tired lyrical refrains and vocal melodies, and a dull sonic sheen by, of all people, Smiths/Blur producer Stephen Street." She labelled "Positivity" as "pathetically weak" but had some affinity for "Lost in TV" and "Beautiful Loser". Overall, she recommended readers to check out old Suede, while leaving A New Morning for "discount-bin destiny."
Suede released a compilation album Singles in 2003 which featured two new songs, "Love the Way You Love" and the single "Attitude". Shortly after the release of Singles the group issued a joint statement on 5 November explaining that outside of the remaining dates on their current tour, that Suede would not be working together for the foreseeable future: "Suede would like to announce that from next year (2004) they will be working on their own individual projects." The announcement confirmed rumours of the group splitting up since the release of A New Morning. Anderson later stated that he felt he had to break out of Suede as he was in an artistic dead end saying: "I need to do whatever it takes to get my demon back."