A first listen of Suun’s debut EP can be frustratingly misleading. While there may be some merit to labeling Suuns as a band desperately reaching for the minimal-terrorist throne that Clinic, Suicide, Can have been occupying nigh in the yonder heavens. There certainly is plenty of ammunition for this idea. The first mangled synthesizer bleating on album opener “Disappearance of the Skyscraper” and introduction of Ben Shemie’s distressed, clench-lipped sing-speak are verbatim to songs like “Frankie Teardrop” or “Walking with Thee.” End of story, right? We can accuse this band of plagiarism and move on with our lives? Wrong. By the middle of the album, that soft, saggy, swaying udder of modern rock records, Suuns begins to earn its uu’s in showing a whole new side to the band.
Post-punk (characterized by its penchant for shoving deadpan percussion and melodic basslines into the driver’s seat of the bus running over guitar-based compositions) serves as a launch pad for Suun’s remarkably danceable low-end. Each spin through Zeroes opens up more and more sonic space between the buzzing synths and staccato guitar freak-outs. Suuns show they are much more interested in using minimalism, repeating melodic lines and a driving backbeat in a similar way to how Arthur Russell wove classical ideas into the world of dance music. These compositions have depth, and while they make an awesome racket, they withstand some of the most merciless beatings. The album’s standout track, “Arenas,” works so well in this context. A stereo-panned Tangerine Dream-style synthscape is joined by drums, a dancey bassline and viscious screeds of glorious nails-across-a-chalkboard guitar swells. Lock-stepped all the way, the rhythm doubles over itself, building a freight-train anthem that reaches its climax when a cut-free, feedback-drenched guitar attack threatens to send the whole composition over the cliff. It does. And the explosion is beautiful. After something that powerful there is nowhere to go after that. The track ends on a downbeat, exhausted.
Listening to Suuns you wish those moments were more plentiful. You wish that Suuns opened it up more and set their amps afire, or threw their guitars through the soundboard. Much of Zeroes feels measured and metered to the BPM. But on this early offering from a promising band we get glimpses of how amazing this young band can be and how much promise their impending full-length holds. You’ve been warned.