Album Review: Suuns – Zeroes QC

Who cares what they're called? The band formerly known as Zeroes make early Albums Of 2011 contender

What’s really in a name change? Canada’s [a]Suuns[/a] were called [b]Zeroes[/b], but rechristened themselves on discovering a bunch of old Cali punks who traded on being “the Mexican [a]Ramones[/a]” way back when. Luckily for them, no-one over here gave a flying fuck until they ripped CMJ to shreds a couple of months ago – which is handy, because in a niftily timed dollop of musical fast food, we’ve now got ‘[b]Zeroes QC[/b]’ to contend with.

Straightaway, what’s so appealing about this album is the double-barrel hellfire tactic the four-piece employ on almost every song. We’re talking half-dirge rock, half-glitchy electronica, split 50/50 and pushed full throttle. Impressively, they manage to make straddling this fence seem as comfy as sitting on your bestest sofa. Opener ‘[b]Armed For Peace[/b]’ is probably the best example of this, stop-starting in a fit of bastardised electro gloopyness before erupting with a frankly gnarly burst of Led Zep-apeing guitar. It’s a mighty mix, and the band coolly know a good thing when they stumble upon it. Essentially, they repeat this process ad infinitum for the rest of the album.

Singer Ben Shemie’s voice – whispered, aloof, almost childlike at times – is definitely suited to the more subtle moments of the record, but it’s his rhythmic, stabbing ‘Iko Iko’-esque ramblings on the likes of the jazzy ‘[b]Pie IX[/b]’ which mark him out as more compelling and more weird than your average. Elsewhere, ‘[b]Gaze[/b]’ could be a fuzzier hallucination of early [a]Interpol[/a], while the more tender ‘[b]Organ Blues[/b]’ hints at proper melodic beauty hiding under the more angular surface of Shemie’s persona.

Not that ‘[b]Zeroes[/b]’ is all great, mind. ‘[b]Marauder[/b]’ is little more than an exercise in knob-twiddling of the Boss variety, while ‘[b]Up Past The Nursery[/b]’ – the most minimalist song here – almost pushes the muso wankery blowout button to annoying levels. Much more intriguing is album centrepiece (and seven-minute epic) ‘[b]Sweet Nothing[/b]’, which emits a musical palette stretching from Link Wray to underground disco while also managing to shoehorn in a brilliant steal of the siren bit from [a]The Standells[/a]’ ‘[b]Riot On Sunset Strip[/b]’. When, at around the five-minute mark, bassist Joe Yarmush suddenly twitches, leaps up, turns up and ushers in an apocalyptically brilliant melody-rush to close proceedings, you can see exactly why all those CMJ jaws were dropped so hastily. From Zeroes to… heroes? Better believe it.

[b]Matt Wilkinson[/b]