For the past decade, Suuns (pronounced "soons") have balanced on shifting, tectonic plates. Meticulously composed, guitar-driven tracks rub up against electronic compositions, creating seismic waves of industrial-indebted sound. Their tracks, soothed by Ben Schemie's half-whispered mantras, are compositions that sit comfortably at the boiling point, always ready to rupture.
Since the release of their first record, Zeroes QC, in 2010, the band have been building towards a progressively darker sound, burrowing deeper and narrowing the focus. On Felt, however, they have found a bit of light on the other side.
Bookended by church bells, "Look No Further" is propelled by an oppressive bass; smooth, sultry and sinister, it's Suuns as we know them. Second track, "X-ALT," is upbeat and bouncy, with an erratic saxophone interlude, followed by the synth-heavy, "Watch You, Watch Me," which has many diehard fans asking if this was, indeed, a Suuns song.
This is a version of Suuns that we've never seen before. Felt is relaxed and loose, the result of short sessions spread out over a couple of months, rather than a couple of weeks on a strict recording schedule. This palpable sense of freedom is felt most on tracks like "Peace and Love" and "Make It Real." On the latter, Schemie croons, "Hey, about this feeling, what am I supposed to do, do you know? Do you care? What do you believe in?"
This one sentence summarizes a lot of the album's experimentation. It dials back on the controlled stomp of their biggest hits like "2020" and "Pie IX," while still asking the questions that burrow inwards. This time around, Suuns experiment with colour, with brass instruments, and with elements of pop music analyzed through a microscope and then dissected. Mixed by John Congleton (St. Vincent, Swans, Explosions in the Sky) Felt is a brilliant example of the group working in synchronicity to produce a great, if surprising product.
And while Suuns' albums tend to reluctantly hold your hand while guiding you through their universe, Felt reaches out and pulls you in. It may even make you dance. It may even get you singing along. It will not, however, care if you like it or not. (Secret City)