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 Zeroes, 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 ‘Zeroes QC’ 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 ‘Armed For Peace’ 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 ‘Pie IX’ which mark him out as more compelling and more weird than your average. Elsewhere, ‘Gaze’ could be a fuzzier hallucination of early [a]Interpol[/a], while the more tender ‘Organ Blues’ hints at proper melodic beauty hiding under the more angular surface of Shemie’s persona.

Not that ‘Zeroes’ is all great, mind. ‘Marauder’ is little more than an exercise in knob-twiddling of the Boss variety, while ‘Up Past The Nursery’ – 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) ‘Sweet Nothing’, 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]’ ‘Riot On Sunset Strip’. 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.

Matt Wilkinson