[Album Review] Suuns- Hold/Still
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Release Date: April 15th, 2016
Label: Secret City/Secretly Canadian

It’s true that you can hear elements of other influential artists on ‘Hold/Still’ (including some of their Montreal post-rock compatriots) but the way Suuns blend these element and their whole quirky approach to construction is unique. Now more than ever they have a sound that is truly their own.

The album has a dark vision of the future thanks to the paranoia in vocalist Ben Shemie’s voice and the shrill, metallic edge to the music. Granted, there are moments of near warmth when the band veers into indie folk territory, but the music always eventually makes its way back to the gloom. “Brainwash” starts out as a psych-pop number but a grim industrial beat keeps breaking in and ultimately takes hold. “Nobody Can Save Me Now” could be a slow-cooking folk/blues song if it weren’t for the electronic bass and heavily distorted guitar casting a truly spooky pall over the affair.

In forging their sound Suuns must naturally stand on the shoulders of giants. “UN-NO” has the heavy prog/post-rock strains of Nine Inch Nails or King Crimson, while “Paralyzer” could well be an outtake from Radiohead’s ‘Kid A’. However, Shemie takes both the songs in vocal directions that none of those bands have pursued. Similarly, “Resistance” is very much in that menacing electronic style of Marie Davidson, but you’ll never hear Davidson break out into psych-folk like Suuns do.

With Suuns the organic (natural vocals and instruments) and the synthetic (heavy distortion, electronics) sometimes stand apart, sometimes flow side-by-side, and other times simply fuse together. In the end it doesn’t matter because everything is dystopian. What the hell, who wants a shiny bright future anyway? Sounds boring.