Look up Suuns on the internet right now and no Wikipedia page will be found. Instead Google takes you to their label, Secretly Canadian, the home of bands such as Animal Collective and Yeasayer. So if you were wondering what Suuns have done to exist rightly beside these two giants of experimental indie, I quickly point you to their newest release Images du Futur, an album whose name is even deliciously kraut in nature. Secretly Canadian proclaims that restraint is the defining element that makes Suuns great, and I see how that could be true. Here we have a record that first focuses on and subsequently moves away from from the band's previous Krautrock tendencies to something decidedly more arty in nature. The impressive bit about this visible evolution over the course of the record is the stripped-down and analog qualities that all of its songs possess.
In less capable hands, Images Du Futur might have ended up sounding like a band in transition, but Suuns manage to avoid this fate by remaining constant in their aesthetic, even when they're experimenting with new sounds. As a result, the album sounds like a culmination of everything they have tried in the past, plus so much more. "Powers of Ten", the album's opener, features a wall of fuzzy guitar before an off kilter breakdown rhythm comes in for the remainder. "Minor Work" sounds almost like a War era U2 tune with its flickering guitar and pulsing bass line. The mellow vibe breaks down by the very next track, but that doesn't mean it disappears forever. "Edie's Dream", for example, is an exercise in minimalist art rock that has waves of gentle tones coming and going with warbly synth and strategic guitar pricks.
As far as restraint is concerned, gorgeous closer "Music Won't Save You" exemplifies the kind of control that is coming to define the band's songwriting. The main guitar riff comes in after the primary fixture of the song, a rotary synth line, has established itself. None of these songs sound crowded, even when Suuns are rocking out. A kind of cohesiveness emerges as the album is playing through, and that aspect is sorely missing from too many records these days. While Suuns may appear as a culmination of their influences, what is most impressive is their ability to condense all those great ideas into something that makes logical sense.
It is a cold and uninviting album at times, but that's nothing to complain about considering it was written within and during the Quebec student riots. Perhaps these guys are purposely avoiding the dominant trends in today's indie music. Instead they choose to recall much of the weird yet awesome Kraut sounds of the 70s and beyond in the hopes of reinvigorating a (mostly) forgotten movement. Suuns are successful in that pursuit only because they aren't exclusively interested in staying true to any one convention.
Watch Suuns' 2011 performance at SXSW, only on Baeblemusic: