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Posted on March 6th, 2013 (2:32 pm) by Jeremy Flynn

I glanced down at the track list of the new Suuns album, Images du Futur, and I yelped. Let me backtrack. I had been carrying around in my head a rather lugubrious phrase for the last week or two. The phrase was “music won’t save you.” It was some sort of personal statement for me, a half-hackneyed backlash at the stylized fervor of the Band X saved my life mentality. Well, down I look at the track list for Images du Futur, and what do I see? The last track on the album is titled “Music Won’t Save You.” Uncanny.

What “Music Won’t Save You” means for Suuns, though, is more unrequited payback than snappy comeback. Like Bill Hicks longing for prime real estate on the Arizona Bay, Suuns just wants you to know what they morbidly want to happen, although it probably won’t.

Ben Shemie sums this sentiment up perfectly on the album’s first single, “Edie’s Dream.” The track, thanks to Joe Yarmush’s bass cleverly trailing behind the beat, is airy and aimless. The song seems to limp along with itself, and it’s one infectious meander. Over this Ben ruminates “I had a dream, do y’know what I mean?” in a pleasurably half-assed way. It could be addressed to a friend, a stranger or no one at all, adding to the dreamlike mood of the song. “It seemed so real,” he seems to plead within himself.

Ben’s tone is more than a one dimensional sneer, though. Although predominantly nasal, his voice can change from the teeth-bared lashing out of “Powers of Ten” to a passive aggressive mumble. Album closer “Music Won’t Save You” showcases the latter wonderfully, as Ben does his best tranquilized Iggy Pop impersonation and darkly mutters through uproarious cafe laughter, and ironically it’s the laughter that sounds unsettling next to Shemie.

The band certainly has pop sensibilities, and I mean that in the best way possible. I love how the drummer screws the beat up faster and slower, like a trap song, on “Powers of Ten.” Overall the album definitely has some EDM influences, namely in the fact that the bass practically dub-wobbles throughout the album. This is done best on “2020,” whose oscillating frequencies gives the song a violently consistent and ritualistic thrust. Coupled with the track’s wanton guitar detuning, I wondered if the track had more in common with Sonic Youth, or Rusko.

“2020” also most obviously showcased the band’s disregard for traditional guitar playing, and I found it to be a refreshing, album-wide attitude. What better way to show disdain, or approval for the possibilities of the instrument, than by detuning it rhythmically? It’s the sonic equivalent of smashing a guitar, a statement that not anybody can get away with. Not to say that the album has no “standard” guitar work, of course it does, and of course Suuns pull it off. The arpeggiated beauty of “Music Wont Save You” for instance, tucked away at the end of the album made me appreciate it all the more. But the grotesque, Glenn Branca-like guitar layers of “Powers of Ten” and “Mirror Mirror” are what give this album its teeth, and when coupled with the savagely consistent sub-beats, it’s quite a beast.

At some points though the band meanders off too much with itself, especially on needless tracks like "Bambi," and "Holocene City." Suuns most potent songs are meditations in simplicity; lyrically sparse and focally concise. In stark contrast we have “Bambi,” with its slew of lyrics and useless guitars. The track effectively lost the band’s dream-like (nightmares are dreams too) essence by feeling just too real, and made Suuns sound like a Radiohead cover band missing a member or two. Overall Images du Futur has some choice cuts, but they are nothing more than cuts. The album does not stand together well as a whole, but I don’t think it wants to.

Track List:
1. Powers of Ten
2. 2020
3. Minor Work
4. Mirror Mirror
5. Edie's Dream
6. Sunspot
7. Bambi
8. Holocene City
9. Images Du Futur
10. Music Won't Save You

Suuns, Images du Futur, Secretly Canadian, Review
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

70 / 100
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