[Secretly Canadian, 2013]
Images Du Futur, the Francophone name of Suuns highly anticipated second full-length LP, is a phrase meaning “images of the future.” When accompanied by the album’s artwork, an infinitely duplicated image of a small girl that has been ripped in a vortex pattern in layered atop one another–a striking visual where you can practically feel the texture of the frayed old photograph–the Montreal quartet seems to be saying the future is bleak. A beautiful vessel of promise ripped to shreds and pieced together again a thousand times over before ever realizing there was promise to be fulfilled; it’s (sadly) not far off from the truth of today’s society. Perhaps it’s not so simple and tragic though.
Perhaps Images Du Futur is simply a declaration of the band itself. This is where their music is going–where music in general is going. It’s certainly a step in a different direction for the band; Zeroes QC was stifling and somewhat punishing, and as singer Ben Shebie points out to The Line of Best Fit, “[Zeroes QC] was a much more suffocating kind of sound whereas with this one we felt more liberated to deliver in a more… I don’t wanna say poppy, ’cause it’s a very loaded word, but some of the songs are a little more open, and like you say confident and so certain songs seem to speak of a direction towards a more accessible approach.” Many bands before Suuns have undergone this very same transformation with their second record; the first comes from a place of almost desperation and ferocity, while the success of that record lends the band a little bit of room to feel comfortable and explore the outskirts of their sound on the follow-up. Suuns have managed to harness that hunger and desperation from Zeroes QC–because it would seem it is all they know how to do–and apply it in a more expansive context on Images Du Futur.
That dynamic between the shifting levels of allowing the world to close in on you as you listen to the record is present immediately in “Powers Of Ten.” A rolling, buzzing guitar enters the mix sounding like a plane flying way too close to your bedroom window, Shemie seemingly singing through a busted lip, “Sooner than later, later than later / You try to explain but you don’t want to wake up / No, no, no you don’t, no you don’t understand it.” The track threatens clarity as if it is a punishment, and just as it is about to come, massive drums and ferocious synth bass lines completely wipe away any semblance of it. It’s clear that Suuns are teasing the idea of opening their sound up, but don’t want to make it too easy for you. “2020” follows suit with punishing rhythms and guitars warped beyond recognition somewhere along the effects chain; it’s not until “Minor Work” that we can see the sky.
“Minor Work” moves along a light drum pattern, with airy synthesizers and softly-sung backup vocals floating atop the track; it’s the only time on the record where Suuns seem to have stumbled upon a single. The extended psych jam at the end and ensuing wall of feedback introducing “Mirror Mirror” signify it is not going to be their permanent face, however. One of the most impressive parts about Images Du Futur is the seamless nature that the songs are woven together. In sequence, the record plays out like a cohesive examination of their sound opening up and closing us out again. The peak of the spacious middle is “Edie’s Dream,” a wide-open track accompanied sparsely by keyboard washes and Shemie intoning, “These same visions,” before the record dips back into the mire.
The best moments on Images Du Futur where Suuns is pushing themselves into that territory of the future, like the dance-punk explosions of “Sunspot” or “Bambi,” where the band sees its most realized effort yet. “Bambi” employs off-kilter guitar chord choices buoying stuttering riffs and howling haunted house wind effects, giving them the air of a bizarro-Radiohead. Ben Shemie’s vocal presence on the track is highly representative of latter-day Thom Yorke, with rhythmic–almost guttural–lyrics lacerate the eerily funky track.
The comparisons to Radiohead don’t end merely in sonics, however. Their English counterparts have made their name doing just what Suuns has managed with Images Du Futur. They have taken the sound of their first record, flipped it on its back, and come out with an artistic statement that is both coherent in the context of their body of work–something that won’t alienate fans–and sending them in a new direction. All indications show that this record is the future.