Sister Suvi is the best rock three-piece in town, bar none. And at a time when string sections, choirs, and/or massive synth and sampler rigs are staples on the indie-rock menu, they should renew everyone’s faith in the rock trio. Not that they stick to the typical three-piece rock-band recipe very closely. For starters, Merrill’s unparalleled vocal presence is only matched by her ukulele wielding, and Patrick’s instrumental talents oscillate between guitar, bass, and baritone guitar. Add Nico’s extremely-proficient-minus-any-showiness-and-ultimately-just-wildly-groovy drumming and you have Montreal’s least-likely champions of rock.
The textures that envelope Sister Suvi’s pop are diverse. Amplified ukulele is a dusty field-recording of a thumb piano lullaby one moment, and a balls-out riff-ax the next. The three members all sing, occasionally resulting in hypnotic polyrhythmic harmony as drums bounce and pound, flutter and squeak. The baritone electric guitar is rhythm and lead all at once, and all of this is without an inkling of gimmickyness. Their music never sounds incomplete and never sounds overwrought. Their songs are full of care without being careful, and full of good ideas while still remaining completely immediate and undeniably fun. At the end of the day, they’re kind of a weird band. But they don’t sound weird at all—just awesome. Plus, it comes across that they’re really tight buddies, which makes you kind of jealous.
The first time I saw Sister Suvi, it was at a student fund-raising event for a cause I regretfully can’t recall at La Sala Rosa. They were donning cave costumes and face paint—and unless I’m making this up—strings of bones around their necks. I’m almost sure of it. Sure, they were good that night, but since then, they’ve blossomed—nay, erupted—into my heart as one of the best bands, period. They have a new album out called Now I Am Champion and you need to check out their rock show immediately.
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