Suuns - Zeroes QC

by Louise Harlow Rating:9 Release Date:2010-11-18

What the eff is it with Canada this year? Caribou, Bikini, Crystal Castles, Japandroids, Women, The Besnard Lakes - the country is churning out stone-cold classic cuts with the alarming speed and efficiency of a Taiwanese Barbie factory.

Into the maple leaf slew comes Zeroes QC, the art-rock trumping behemoth of a debut album from Montreal's Suuns. The sonic sum of all fears, this record is a seething memo on the power of talking quietly and carrying a very, very big stick. For practical evidence of the terror of threat in action, direct your lugholes to album opener 'Armed for Peace', which bristles and groans with under the weight of circling synth stormclouds and a beat as sparse as it is menacing. Rangy slices of guitar (Nick Zinnner, anyone?) splinter through the malcontent, yet this monster of a track never reaches the drop-off it teeters on from start to finish.

The constant delay of the sonic wrecking ball this record promises to be is the party trick which elevates Suuns above fellow experimental shock jocks. Chanelling the same feral energy as Crystal Castles yet, rainchecking just short of the eternal shit storm usually spewing from the lungs of Alice Glass, Suuns is an outfit aware of the muscle of the understatement. 'Sweet Nothing' crackles like the soundscape of a nuclear raid in hell, all throbbing fazers and siren squeals, yet amid the skitter and chop of Joe Yarmush's cuts, someone drops the needle on a Dick Dale 45, and out of nowhere in sweeps a splash of reverb-heavy surf rock guitar, ebbing away as inexplicably as it came. This unnerving predilection for the perverse rears its head again on the neurosis-baiting 'Pie IX', where flashes of blissed-out guitar sit uneasily with Ben Shemie's dismembered vocal babble and ratcheting synths to put the royal willies up ye.

Nevertheless, Zeroes QC is a record of intent. Amidst the primeval near-eruptions there's the unmistakeable sense that nothing in the chaos is by chance. The spectral brood conjured up during 'Gaze' pays homage to the dystopian sound shifts that have made Sonic Youth an eternal reference point for any band whose magnetic north is decidedly noir. 'Arena' is the goth-paranoia treat we would have enjoyed had the Munsters ever 'gone electric', and could quite conceivably have been the Jean Michel Jarre single that never was, if only he hadn't gone and got all distracted banging Charlotte Rampling (surely a handful at the very best of times)...

For all that, a listen to Zeroes mostly has the tranquility of a swim with sharks, there are points when the volatility evaporates and there are moments of genuine beauty to be had. The closing two-hander of 'Fear' and 'Organ Blues' creeps in like a shadow on the back of the jitter-mongering blizzard that precedes it. The latter slowly unfurls a wash of primordial, cockle-warming organ haze that is as delicate as it is unexpected. Obviously, this is as likely as stumbling across a snowball in the seventh circle of hell, making it hard not to listen while adopting an automatic brace position, convinced as you are, that someone, somewhere, is about to kosh you over the head with a big, art rock shaped stick.

The record is a human timebomb. Coil the spring and wait patiently for the apocalypse...

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