Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Album: Suturee - Suturee

Album: Suturee
Self-released, 2008
Rating: ******* (7/10)

I'd never heard of Suturee until they sent me a note a couple of weeks ago suggesting I might enjoy their album. I had low expectations, but I couldn't turn down their promise of male-female vocals and shoegaze-inspired sound. Plus, the band is in New York via San Juan, and I have a soft spot for any band with Puerto Rican roots.

The band only broke one promise - I could hear scarcely any trace of "shoegaze" influence in their music. And that's not really surprising, given the abuse that term faces nowadays. And it's just as well that the band isn't shoegaze, because what they do is certainly better without yet another forced homage to My Bloody Valentine. Suturee plays sweet, slow lo-fi underground pop, like Luna, Low or Mohave 3, and they do it very well.

As for the male-female vocals, they are exactly what I was hoping for - beautifully rough around the edges in terms of harmony and rhythm, with a gentle-but-raw tone in both voices. Most of the vocals lines have both singers together, but the arrangements of the two parts aren't always so simplistic - they come in, drop out, diverge and reconnect with near-perfection.


The album itself is solid, though not without its weaknesses. Most glaringly, there's not much variance between the songs - if you hear one, you have a good idea what you'll be in for for the rest of the album.

The opening two tracks are outstanding. In the first, "Afraid of Hands," the band shows their Puerto Rican heritage by slipping into the traditional Spanish scale - but even this they do with moderation and restraint. Number two, "Detain," has a gorgeous melody, but the subsequent couple of tracks slide towards banality in their arrangements and melodies.

However, Suturee returns full-force after a brief piano interlude (called "Wait Less" and I'm a total sucker for puns), with the excellent song "Me to Meet" which stands apart from the rest by its faint sashaying rhythm.

Everything on the album illustrates restraint, thought and a keen sense of beauty. It's not revolutionary, but it's well-executed and I definitely recommend a listen. It will make your ears happy, I promise.

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