March 1, 2018 Suuns – Felt (Album Review)
Space travel can be very expensive. One trip to the moon could drain a bank account dry, while a layover in Mars may take away years of saved-up Social Security funds. All hope of getting to the Milky Way seems like a lost cause… but not for long! Worried about not being able to visit family on Jupiter, or seeing friends at Orion’s Belt? – wait no more! Get on your space suits and helmets, for there is a cheaper alternative to traverse the universe.
On Friday, March 2, 2018, the label, and mothership, Secretly Canadian is set to drop down through the Earth’s atmosphere a brand new album from Montreal’s Suuns into the ears of Earthlings abound. Sure, an album is no spaceship, nor is it a way of getting into outer space, but, for the time being, it will be the closest thing anyone will get to space travel – and is a whole lot cheaper, too.
In a galaxy far, far away, the band Suuns began in the starry year of 2010 when its debut EP, Zeroes, nose-dived into the oceanic world of music, flooding the waters with its sound of Indie-fused Electro-Rock. During the early and later portions of 2000, watery waves as high as the clouds crashed onto beaches when Suuns dropped down three full-length albums through Secretly Canadian; but since 2016, radio signals from Suuns had ceased. Two years later, though, in 2018, just as the tides had calmed, Suuns return with 11 new transmission signals, which, after decoding, reveals to be the band’s fourth full-length album called Felt.
Going through each of the transmissions, listeners will be welcomed to many different types of sounds and effects Suuns use to create its brand of spacey, Electro-Rock. The first track, “Look No Further,” features a Hip Hop beat that is recorded in a way many Lo-Fi enthusiasts will surely adore, and, for a brief moment, will bring many to mind elements of Beck’s 1996 album Odelay.” At first, this slow-burn of a track may seem a bit odd as an opener, but as the album moves along, after each song starts and ends, it will become apparent Suuns had this all planned from the get-go.
Perfect example is how “X-ALT” crescendos from what could be that of a crash-cymbal explosion into a steady bass drum beat, which then carries the rest of the song. A guitar riff plays along, too, almost entirely on one string, and is heavily doused in a vibrato effect. Later on, a saxophone wails out a skillful, yet possibly improvised lead, that gives a creepy vibe to this particular track. Singing over these instruments is Vocalist/Guitarist Ben Shepie, whose voice sounds like it is deep under water because it is saturated in a flanger/chorus effect. All in all, “X-ALT” would be great as the score for a Science-Fiction/Mystery film.
Coming in next “Watch You/Watch Me:” a faster, ritzier version of “X-ALT,” featuring one of the catchiest keyboard melodies heard in a long while, sounds almost as if Suuns had written the next best Nintendo song. Even Shepie’s vocals are great on this tune, although incoherent, because an effect was used on his voice that comes close to sounding like another keyboard all on its own! The 8-bit sounds are at an all-time high on this track, and are very mood effective as the song goes on for nearly six minutes. The drums and keys on this track are completely mesmerizing, raising its worth of being heard over and over again on “repeat.”
As the album moves along, its tone changes as well, keeping the listener on his or her toes from how interesting Suuns is able to write music. On the track “Baseline,” a wonderful vocal melody hovers above a gorgeous guitar riff, giving off the image of a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning spent at home watching Sci-Fi movies. Then the song “Daydream” will surely satisfy those in need of some deep thinking, even with how fast the tempo is, and how the songs swells from loud to distorted, as well as how Shepie’s voice sounds like it is being used to communicate with robots. The all-instrumental/noise piece “Moonbeams” is the perfect companion for “Daydream.” If possible, the listener might want to program the two songs to play back to back, just to prove the former statement true.
While prices for space travel these days are out of this world, 2018 will be a great year for Suuns. Felt is 11 songs deep of pure experimental music, showcasing the band’s growth of nearly ten years now. Suuns has pushed forth a fantastic record, and every song on it is just as strange as the next, and just as beautiful in every way. Each member of the band perfectly utilizes many instruments and sound effects to tell a great story here. For some fans, Felt may be Sunns’ best work to date, and may also end up onto someone’s Best Album Of The Year list as a result. For Suuns’ amazing work, CrypticRock proudly gives Felt 5 out of 5 stars.