Canadians reveal an effortlessly enjoyable debut that revels in its own weirdness.
Mike Diver 2011
Recognised as ones to watch in 2011 by quarters of the music press with ears pressed rather closer to the underground sounds emanating from the other side of the Atlantic, Montreal quartet Suuns are a beguiling group that take wonderfully immersive, transfixing, repetitive electro elements and fuse them to quasi-stoner rock grooves and shoegaze atmospheres. At times Zeroes QC, their debut long-player, simultaneously stirs thoughts of Cluster and Comets on Fire, of Suicide gate-crashing the first studio sessions of a reformed Slowdive. It’s enthralling – perhaps not because of any pronounced originality, granted, but certainly due to how every element sits so well in the overall mix.
Produced by Jace Lasek of The Besnard Lakes – he’s also worked on records by the likes of Young Galaxy, Wolf Parade and Patrick Watson – these tracks wander relatively far and wide in tone and texture. Soon as the listener thinks that they have the group pegged, along comes a number to toss that conclusion into the wildest winds. Pie XI is an example of such a side-step from an established sound, a chirruping, unsettling swirl of creepy child-like vocals and low-end pulsations. This, straight after the propulsive beats and clean, Interpol-y guitars of Arena. A comparison to Autolux isn’t too wide of the mark when Suuns are following a linear trajectory, Liam O’Neill’s drums exact and Ben Shemie’s vocals clear – but when the tangents come, they’re as distracting as a streaker interrupting play during a vital penalty shoot-out. Whether that’s a plus or minus point is down to the individual.
As a result, there’s not quite an established cohesion from piece to piece – no flawless thread that binds these tracks together as a whole. But this can easily be forgiven, given that it’s a debut (a better-realised packaging of the band’s obvious potential will surely follow), and that the stylistic detours are always taken with confidence. Suuns aren’t mixing up their genre bag just because they feel that they should; they’re taking the listener out of their comfort zone because, to them, it’s totally natural to do so. Fans of the above-cited comparisons, plus the squelchy dance-prog-rock of the likes of Trans Am and Parts & Labor, are advised to check out Zeroes QC just as soon as the January blues have dissipated. Or sooner, indeed, as this sort of immediate and effortlessly enjoyable fare is certain to lift any grey skies ennui.