Release Date: Mar 5, 2013
Record label: Secretly Canadian
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival
It’s a wonder that I’ve managed to finish this piece. Not so much because it’s a difficult album. I’m not even that busy. No, it’s simply because every time – every single time – I try to type either the above band name or the album title this word processing software changes the words to something else.
Make no mistake about it: Montreal four-piece Suuns are cool. Their full-length debut, 2011’s non-linear Zeroes QC, trod a fine line between unsettling and cathartic – sudden gusts of sound providing a conduit for the band’s burgeoning potential energy – and was duly met with the critical acclaim it deserved. So far, so good – but what now? From the menacing thrum that introduces Fugazi-esque opening track Powers Of Ten – a cacophonous prelude that invites the listener to “Brace! Brace! Brace!” – it’s immediately apparent that Suuns’ intent is to delve deeper into the soundscape they first set in stone two years ago.
Being labeled “best new band,” on the strength of their debut album in 2011 by none other than the NME, would be enough to send most groups into a tailspin of anxiety-related pharmaceutical dependency and writer’s block. And while we’re not sure the former didn’t happen, Suuns, as evidenced by their stunning new album Images Du Futur, certainly didn’t balk at the task of producing a compelling sophomore release. The Montreal quartet has their fingers in many pies, and the combination of noise, space, art and good old rock come together in a mix that creates its own gravitational pull.
"The music won’t save you." Music on its own can rescue you from certain types of despair and alleviate those doubtful times. It can influence mood and provide a temporary respite from downtrodden circumstances. But really, those are just fleeting feelings. Because through it all, real life awaits as the notes begin to fade.
Hervé Fischer wrote of his electronic and digital art showcase, Images Du Futur, as being ‘an exploration of the unknown. ’ At the time, 1985, digital art was largely shunned by conventional critics, but Fischer with his Co-founder, Ginette Major, eventually established a collection, which he said was "truly representative of the eighties and nineties. .
The darkly retro-futuristic resonance of Montreal's Suuns doesn't exactly sound like the music of your nightmares, though it could certainly complement your more unsettling dreams. The group's sophomore release, Images du Futur, brings to mind the kind of dreams from which you might not wake up not gasping for breath, but are saturated in an unpleasantly cold sweat, more disturbed than frightened — in a good way. An unnerving sensation of mechanical tension is immediately evident on album opener "Powers of Ten," on which singer Ben Shemie sings through gritted teeth, as if frustratingly unable to let his voice escape.
Montreal art rockers Suuns' 2010 debut Zeroes CQ was a little lost in a sea of influences, but broke up messy Deerhoof-meets-Clinic jams with refreshing open-aired moments. Sophomore follow-up Images du Futur is an entirely more cohesive synthesis of the heavy and the spare, with the band creating both space and dramatic tension within even their most driving songs. Tracks like "2020" draw on various styles and elements without becoming cluttered, even when a wobbly, near-dubstep electronic bass pulse is the backdrop for guitar lines that shift between skronky no wave slides and shimmering, ghostly tremolo.
When the world, his wife and Radio 1’s Head Of Music were rubberstamping “the return of guitar music” at the end of last year, no-one actually specified what kind of guitars we were talking about. Heavy-metal axes? Jingly-jangly anorak-clad Rickenbackers? New boring acoustics? Or electrodoomrock weapons of psych-jazz eeriness? Suuns have bet the farm on the latter. In fact, the Montreal quartet were already on the button a couple of years ago with debut album ‘Zeroes QC’, a twisted art-rock salvo of intimidating confidence that veered nauseously between dark funk freakouts, motorik odysseys and murky surf-pop travesties, and saw Suuns weighed down with the crown of our best new band of 2011.
Montreal's Suuns made a strong first impression with their 2010 debut, Zeroes QC, combining ominous, pulsing synths with dissonant post-punk guitars and unexpected bursts of pop harmonies. Rather than mess with a good thing, they've simply refined that bag of tricks on the sequel, once again working with producer Jace Lasek. Recorded with the Montreal student protests filling the streets around them every day, Images Du Futur is more dissonant than its predecessor.
Suun’s debut full-length, Zeroes QC, stood out with a volatile mélange of electronic experimentation and big-guitar rockist leanings. This time out, the Montréal group is more consistent, diving more wholeheartedly into their Kraut-y electronic side, bringing modern-day Liars or Clinic to mind. The guitars never quite get to riff stage, serving up texture, tension, and drone.
Suuns' debut album was an enjoyable, if somewhat forgettable, slab of pulsing modern rock; it was great while you were listening, but rarely would you think to throw it on at home. The Montreal group's follow-up, Images Du Futur, looks to remedy this, building upon the best parts of their debut. The record opens with the Fugazi-esque "Power of Ten" before settling into the more telling throb of "2020." The Radiohead and early Muse influences are still present, but the group are more concerned with groove than ever before — the keys, bass and drums working in lockstep, recalling Clinic's second album.
Last year, Montreal heavyweights Godspeed You! Black Emperor released an album largely defined by the Printemps érable, or “Maple Spring”, a massive 400,000-person march/movement on the streets of Montreal protesting massive tuition hikes in the education system. Fellow denizens Suuns recorded a set of songs right around the same time, while the streets ran red with students and supporters. If GY!BE harnessed the collective emotions of almost half a million people at once, Suuns are more interested in numbing the emotions of half a million people — one at a time.
As much as listeners strive to seek out and reward bands that are truly original, there's a sense that complaining about derivative music is an ultimately futile affair, on par with doing the same about traffic, exorbitant athlete salaries, or primetime sitcoms: it's something of a victimless crime that's impossible to realistically eliminate, so you might as well learn to deal. On that note, Suuns' Images Du Futur is indeed a derivative record, but in a paradoxically unique way that doesn't allow the typical mitigating circumstances to be considered. The Montreal band doesn't recall a specific era of music, nor do they remind one of the kind of band so ingrained in the culture that they're basically public domain.
Veronica Falls Waiting for Something to Happen. “I won’t look back anymore,” the English band Veronica Falls promises, in nicely meshed boys-and-girls harmony, on its second album, “Waiting for Something to Happen” (Slumberland). Which may be disingenuous since Veronica Falls very much ….