Suuns: Zeroes QC

With two sides to bridge -- the organic with the electronic -- all the way through Zeroes QC, Suuns presents itself with a tall order, and the results can be mixed.


Zeroes QC

US Release: 2010-10-12
Label: Secretly Canadian
UK Release: 2010-10-11
Artist Website
Label Website

There's two sides to the sound from Montreal's Suuns on their new record, Zeroes QC, and the make themselves known right off the bat on opener "Armed for Peace". Like the contradiction in the title, the song builds on two distinct, and disparate, feels. It starts with a blippy, groaning electronic beat that quietly, but ever so insistently, builds in intensity. Handclaps come in to add some human echo to the beat, high-hats hiss their way in until about the minute-and-a-half mark. Then, out of nowhere, a guitar attack bursts through the song. The riffs come, heavy with overdrive, notes spinning off the fret boards, and they hang on through the rest of the song, providing a moody, almost confrontational backdrop for singer Ben Shemie's breathy vocals.

It's an impressive moment, built as much on restraint as on bravado, and when Suuns are firing on all cylinders on Zeroes QC, that is the power they're capable of. "Gaze" is the kind of muscled, brooding rock that Robert Smith would love, combining thick walls of distorted guitar with rattling synths to solid effect. Elsewhere, "Sweet Nothing" churns along for seven minutes with a krautrock stubbornness, while "Up Past the Nursery" breaks up the album's straight-on, electronic propulsion with a beat that bounces more than it rumbles and guitars that drop muted riffs quietly into the mix. It's the band at their strongest here, building tension in both the organic and electronic elements and not quite combining them so much as pitting them against each other and dropping us into the fray.

In other places, though, the two sides combine a little too nicely. "Arena", for example, starts as warm electro-pop, and never quite builds past that. Even when guitars moan shapeless feedback over the beat late in the song, it feels like an unnecessary turn. It shows the band knows there needs to be something else there, which is good, but the fleeting squall doesn't do quite enough work on the track. "PVC" has a nice, bouncing guitar riff, but the beat behind it is too simple, too thin to fight through the gauzy layers of guitar that build as the song goes. Closer "Organ Blues" tries a more haunting take on their two-sided sound, and comes close to pulling it off. The percussion is spare slaps and jangling, with Shemie's voice wafting in with an affecting airy feel to it, but the faint squeals of guitar that work so well early on -- to cut through the fog of organ working its way over the track -- eventually builds to something too unruly. It's a rare moment where they lose their restraint as, though it doesn't totally throw the song off, it does interrupt an otherwise smartly constructed fever dream.

So, with two sides to bridge all the way through here -- the organic with the electronic -- Suuns presented itself with a tall order on Zeroes QC, and the results can be mixed as a result. Still, if you focus on the finer moments here -- and, at the very least, "Armed for Peace" is a striking and unique rock song -- there's a lot of promise to glean from this record. Suuns take an interested angle on two elements that have been married plenty in the past, and sometimes it pays off, but as they go on, here's hoping their compositions more consistently match up to their ambition.





By the Book

Jack Halberstam's 'Wild Things: The Disorder of Desire' (excerpt)

Enjoy this excerpt of Wild Things: The Disorder of Desire, wherein Jack Halberstam offers an alternative history of sexuality by tracing the ways in which wildness has been associated with queerness and queer bodies throughout the 20th century.

Jack Halberstam

Sotto Voce's 'Your Husband, the Governor' Is Beautifully Twisted DIY Indie Folk-rock

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Gabos releases another odd, gorgeous home studio recording under the moniker Sotto Voce.


Numün's 'voyage au soleil' Is a Trippy, Ambient Ride and Ambitious Debut

Eclectic instrumental trio numün combine a wealth of influences to create a vibe that's both spacey and earthy on voyage au soleil.


L7's 'Smell the Magic' Is 30 and Packs a Feminist Punch

Abortion is under threat again, and there's a sex offender in the Oval Office. A fitting time, in short, to crank up the righteously angry vocals of feminist hard rock heavy hitters like L7.


Can Queer Studies Rescue American Universities?

Matt Brim's Poor Queer Studies underscores the impact of poorer disciplines and institutions, which often do more to translate and apply transformative intellectual ideas in the world than do their ivory-tower counterparts.


Jim White Offers a "Smart Ass Reply" (premiere)

Jesus and Alice Cooper are tighter than you think, but a young Jim White was taught to treat them as polar opposites. Then an eight-track saved his soul and maybe his life.


Ed Harcourt Paints From 'Monochrome to Colour'

British musician Ed Harcourt's instrumental music is full of turbulent swells and swirls that somehow maintain a dignified beauty on Monochrome to Colour.


West London's WheelUP Merges Broken Beat and Hip-Hop on "Stay For Long" (premiere)

West London producer WheelUP reached across the pond to Brint Story to bring some rapid-fire American hip-hop to his broken beat revival on "Stay For Long".


PM Picks Playlist 4: Stellie, The Brooks, Maude La​tour

Today's playlist features the premiere of Stellie's "Colours", some top-class funk from the Brooks, Berne's eco-conscious electropop, clever indie-pop from Maude Latour, Jaguar Jonze rocking the mic, and Meresha's "alien pop".


Plattetopia: The Prefabrication of Utopia in East Berlin

With the fall of the Berlin Wall came the licence to take a wrecking ball to its nightmare of repression. But there began the unwritten violence of Die Wende, the peaceful revolution that hides the Oedipal violence of one order killing another.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Electrosoul's Flõstate Find "Home Ground" on Stunning Song (premiere)

Flõstate are an electrosoul duo comprised of producer MKSTN and singer-songwriter Avery Florence that create a mesmerizing downtempo number with "Home Ground".


Orchestra Baobab Celebrate 50 Years with Vinyl of '​Specialist in All Styles'

As Orchestra Baobab turn 50, their comeback album Specialist in All Styles gets a vinyl reissue.


Hot Chip Stay Up for 'Late Night Tales'

Hot Chip's contribution to the perennial compilation project Late Night Tales is a mixed bag, but its high points are consistent with the band's excellence.


The Budos Band Call for Action on "The Wrangler" (premiere)

The Budos Band call on their fans for action with the powerful new track "The Wrangler" that falls somewhere between '60s spy thriller soundtrack and '70s Ethiojazz.


Creature Comfort's "Woke Up Drunk" Ruminates on Our Second-Guesses (premiere)

A deep reflection on breaking up, Nashville indie rock/Americana outfit Creature Comfort's "Woke Up Drunk" is the most personal track from their new album, Home Team.


For Don DeLillo, 'The Silence' Is Deafening

In Don DeLillo's latest novel, The Silence, it is much like our post-pandemic life -- everything changed but nothing happened. Are we listening?


Brett Newski Plays Slacker Prankster on "What Are You Smoking?" (premiere)

Is social distancing something we've been doing, unwittingly, all along? Brett Newski pulls some pranks, raises some questions in "What Are You Smoking?".

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.