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. Vocalist Ben Shemie revives his distinctive style – a stressed incarnation of Clinic‘s Abe Blackburn – before his cohorts crash into the mix with both abandon and restraint; the band’s rapidly evolving calling card.
But Images Du Futur isn’t noise for its own sake: a golden vein of melody runs throughout, finding particular prominence in the excellent 2020 – where the simplest of cascading riffs leads to a reflecting pool of humming bass and a heavy, hip-hop-like beat – and lead single Edie’s Dream, where effects pedals are set aside in favour of muted arpeggios and wistful, lackadaisical vocals. Put simply, comparisons with the likes of Slint are spot-on, but Suuns’ Deerhunter-like qualities are often equally pronounced.
It is a testament to the band, then, that they’re able to rationalise the disparate, divergent sides of their personalities into a cohesive whole. To such ends, the album’s running order takes on a new importance: Minor Work succeeds 2020 with a similar marriage of earthy analogue and sci-fi digital elements, before Mirror Mirror segues into a slightly altered state by dialing back the peril in favour of more conventional chords. It’s subtle yet obvious; nuanced yet unmistakable.
The B-side eases up at first – the quietly expansive Sunspot more reminiscent of Quebec’s vast wilderness than Montreal’s urban jungle – before unveiling Images Du Futur’s skittering, dance-worthy highlight in the form of Bambi; an effort that pounds forth like LCD Soundsystem‘s James Murphy in an angry fugue. Even then, Suuns rein it in, and their less becomes more.
That underlying vein of melody then blossoms into a heart of gold in the form of Holocene City – a number that carefully picks its way into Grandaddy territory with curious progressions and an ear-pricking chorus – while the title track pauses for droning contemplation and album closer Music Won’t Save You introduces a mocking laugh track and metronomic electro into the mix; a last glimpse at the contrasting turns – and the occasional cynicism – by which Images Du Futur excels.
This is an album that demands attention. An album that is experiential – at once lo-fi and richly textured – where the listener is a fly on the wall, mesmerised by minor-chord introspections that come in waves – some lap gently; others overwhelm. Above all, this is an album that bears repeat play after repeat play, revealing greater detail each and every time.