Montreal experimental band Suuns have grown in leaps and bounds in the last couple years. No doubt, their debut LP Zeroes QC was a solid entry point, with a clever mixture of noise and pop and a good sampling through the various electronic derivations of alternative rock we’ve seen in the last 20 years or so. While a good introduction, Zeroes QC wasn’t exactly a total breakthrough, and far too soon, it got written off as a more accessible alternative to the work of maybe HEALTH or early Black Dice. But with their 2011 12” single, we saw a beast of a different color. The A-side, “Bambi”, was a rapturous 8 minute post-industrial monster, carrying enough of a beat to dance and enough disorienting noise to satisfy their established fan base. The B-side, “Red Song”, was maybe the most anxiety inducing track of the year. A murky electronic beat carries behind minimalist guitar and slow-bending vocals. An explosion of noise is always right over the horizon but never happens – it’s horrible and wonderful and entirely unique to Suuns. So it is with great excitement that we receive their second LP offering, Images Du Futur, which builds on the “Bambi”/”Red Song” energy and presents us with a refined image of what terrifying power Suuns are capable of.
Suuns don’t wait too long before diving into this brave new world. “Powers of Ten” opens up with incomprehensible piles of monotone guitars as Ben Shemie screams through gritted teeth. The song explodes into the second verse with a punishing drum part and even more guitar noise thrown on to the pile behind Shemie’s vocals. With the third verse, the drums consciously turn electronic, mixing industrial noise with trap hip-hop hi-hats. It’s a hodgepodge of everything we’ve heard so far from Suuns and it creates a bit of a mystery as to what’s going to come next. But of course, the next offering is newest single “2020”, which may be the band’s best offering yet. The crazy thing about 2020 is that, while it maintains a musical melody through the vocals, the guitar is almost completely atonal, as Joe Yarmush rips out a fantastic hook made up entirely of slides and bends to and fro to god knows where. But a strong drum groove keeps the energy going through the next section of development. Around the 3:30 mark, the song reaches its climactic saturation point before fading out and diving into the dark “Minor Work”. It’s a track you won’t want to miss and shows that Suuns have evolved to new territory as songwriters and as a collective.
“Minor Work” and “Mirror Mirror” see Suuns returning to familiar noise territory (albeit in a more organic context) before exploring a psychedelic wonderland with “Edie’s Dream”. On first listen, the lazy drum part seems to be about the only thing on the beat. Guitars, bass, and vocals throughout seem to be in slow motion as the jazzy tune builds. But as the album’s transition point to a more mysterious, druggy landscape, it works perfectly and will become one of your favorites with a second or third listen. “Sunspot” follows down the same path, throwing jazz into the mix before returning to a strong post-industrial landscape with a newly rehashed version of “Bambi”. The “Bambi” we see here matches the Images terrain perfectly, drawing more heavily on guitars, building quicker, and sounding a lot angrier overall. Even two years later, the track hasn’t aged a day.
With the last couple, Suuns dive deeper into experimental territory. “Holocene City” dumps you off into the title track, a wordless mixture of sound and shape that provides a small reprieve before their epic closer. “The Music Won’t Save You” just might be the most poignant experimental track we’ve seen in the last couple years. Like they showed us two years ago with “Red Song”, Suuns have magnificent power in simplicity, so their closer starts out easy. The 6/8 time signature and almost entirely electronic landscape serve as a stark contrast to the rest of the record, which is altogether much more organic than Zeroes QC. This image of the future way be the darkest of the whole record. “I was talking to the old god about rock and roll”, Shemie growls, “but the old god don’t listen to rock and roll no more.” As the track builds and Yarmush comes in with a gorgeous guitar part, voices start to rumble up from the ground and cover their sound. As Shemie sings each line of the third verse, laughter echoes until inappropriate applause almost covers Suuns entirely. Once the chill passes, you’ll want to flip the record and start it all over again.
Images Du Futur is out March 5 through Secretly Canadian on CD and vinyl! Currently, Suuns has one of the best preorder deals around - order a colored copy of Images through Secretly Canadian directly and you get a poster and a free vinyl copy of their first LP, Zeroes QC, all for $27. Catch Suuns at Sasquatch! Music Festival this summer!