Suuns’ lead singer Ben Shemie refers to the environment in which his Montreal band recorded Images du Futur—the Quebec student protests of last year—as, according to the press release, “a climate of excitement, hope, and frustration.” But if the album is a political statement, it would be best described as resigned apathy.
Shemie has occasional bouts of angsty singing through his gritted teeth, as on album opener “Powers of Ten” where his vocals gain momentum from an anxious guitar riff. On the rest of the album, however, Shemie tends to mumble and croon, channeling a muddier Thom Yorke.
Shemie’s voice is quite beautiful, which is why it’s a shame he throws it away so easily. Three quarters way through the album, Suuns sounds tight on “Bambi,” with a throbbing, randomly arpeggiated bass and a sharp, insistent guitar melody, punctuated by a strong snare drum. Over his band’s excited noise, he sighs, “To want to can’t you feel / Maybe you can see / To want to can’t you see / Maybe they be.” On some parts of this album, one simply wishes that Shemie would just spit it out.
The rest of the band has a refined post-punk sound that has obviously been carefully moderated to provide enough space for a rhythm that lopes along with confidence. “Edie’s Dream,” with its mellow, laissez-faire beat, is a perfect example of this—a highlight of the album. Images du Futur, as a sophomore effort, contains snapshots of brilliance. But for this to have been a fully realized soundtrack to Montreal’s uncertain future, Shemie should have worked harder to see eye-to-eye with the rest of his band’s vision.