Canada - Full Moon 243 - 06/20/16
Canada's Suuns just released their third album, Hold/Still, and they have come up with a record receiving very good reviews: 'Hold/Still
conjures up the existential mood of floating in deep space. Lonely - but also out of this world.' (Clashmusic.com magazine), and: '...do yourselves
a favour, find a dark room, a bag of Kettle Chips and don't come out until the fifth listen.' (Godisinthetvzine.co.uk magazine).
Suuns (pronounced 'soons', and translates as 'zeroes' in Thai) formed in Montreal in 2007, by singer/guitarist Ben Shemie and guitarist Joe Yarmush who shortly after added Ben's old school
friend Liam O'Neill (drums) and Max Henry (keyboards/synth/bass) to their line-up - their gang of four. Legendary British band Gang of Four might not be a musical reference, even though Suuns
wander some modern day experimental 'new wave' music fields. Imagine the musical plains where bands like Xiu Xiu and UK's Clinic roam. Suuns' first two albums, Zeroes QC (2010) and
Images Du Futur (2013) - the latter was a nominee for Canada's profiled Polaris Prize award - were both well received by the critics and the band took part of 'the late 2000s musical
renaissance in the city [of Montreal], alongside fellow groups like The Besnard Lakes, Islands and Land Of Talk,' according to their label Secretly Canadian. Their first two albums were both
recorded and produced with the band's friend Jace Lasek (of The Besnard Lakes) at his Montreal studio Breakglass. For Hold/Still they 'relocated' to Dallas, Texas to work with acclaimed
producer John Congleton (Angel Olsen, Explosions in the Sky, St. Vincent, Okkervil River, John Grant, The War On Drugs, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Xiu Xiu, Sleater-Kinney and many more). According
to guitar player Joe Yarmush, 'recording in Montreal, it's more of a party atmosphere.... [in Dallas] it felt like we were on a mission. We were looking
for something to take us out of our element, or that might seep into our music. Suuns focused on the recording process, and they were able to rework and distil songs that had been
with the band for years.
Hold/Still unveils a number of eerie and mystic songs of the minimalist music kind, with a touch of free-floating electronic pop music. To quote Ben and Joe:
'We write quite minimal music...not traditional song forms, sometimes they don't really go anywhere - but they have their own kind of logic.'
(Ben), and: 'It's pop music, but sitting in this evil space.' (Joe). The songs of Hold/Still are hard to get to, hence God Is In The
TV's advice of (at least) five listens. Secretly Canadian states that the album is a work which 'derives its eerie power from simmering tensions and strange, stark juxtapositions, and in doing
so, directs rock music down a new, unventured path.' The album and its songs sound quite cold, but tracks such as "Translate" and the long-stretched "Careful" has a warm pulse, sort of, and
the album holds a lot of tension. A different kind of tension. The songs are highly introvert, with toned down grooves, mild electronic patterns, and minimalist melodies and rhythms. For now,
the sad-ridden "Nobody Can Save Me Now" is one of the tracks I like the better. I guess
I need some five more spins to see the full effect of the album, because Hold/Still is not the summer pop album of 2016. Maybe for a 'Suuny' afternoon, with lots of drizzling rain.
Copyright © 2016 H. Oppøyen