New Music

Canadian noisy punks TUNIC premiere new track “Whispering”, an uptempo basher, driven by spirited guitar and bass tracks that gel into something downright anthemic

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A 2021 review from Decibel Magazine described Tunic‘s sophomore effort, Quitter, as “hurtling forward, AmRep style.” Of that same album, Invisible Oranges stated, “everything sounds like it’s teetering on the edge of collapse.” Indeed, Quitter was a herky-jerky assault of pummeling drums, distorted bass, discordant guitar, and wild-eyed vocals that put the Winnipeg band on the map, somewhere in the noise-punk territory between Amphetamine Reptile and Three One G. Angular and acidic, Tunic kept the listener at arm’s length, yet guitarist David Schellenberg screamed with an earnestness that felt like a plea for connection.

Recorded and mixed at Machines With Magnets by Seth Manchester (Metz, The Body, Liturgy, Lightning Bolt), Wrong Dream smashes the boundaries set by the previous work and represents a giant step toward that connection. The core elements of Tunic’s anxiety-ridden sound are intact – Schellenberg’s wits-end yowl and sour guitar notes, and drummer Dan Unger’s austere, metronomic beats are in full force – but from within the din, glorious streams of light pierce through. Wrong Dream is Tunic’s greatest and most engaging work to date. The band’s tangle of dissonance and angst is laced with heart-swelling moments of melody and demons laid bare, making for songs that cut deeper than what came before.

“The biggest breakthroughs came from me trying to break out of my shell,” says Schellenberg. “It’s an evolution in songwriting that really shows our versatility in a way we haven’t done yet.”

One aspect of this evolution was Schellenberg’s use of bass and keyboards, not only guitars, in the writing process. As a result, Wrong Dream is powered by a steady current of bass lines coursing prominently through its nine songs, at times evoking the vibes of early post-punks like Gang of Four and Public Image Ltd., and the album is peppered with odd new instrumentation that adds thrilling dimensions – the industrial clanking on “My Body, My Mind,” for example.

The perspective shift of the new writing method has resulted in some of the most impactful and memorable music of Tunic’s career. Wrong Dream’s first single “Whispering” is an uptempo basher, driven by spirited guitar and bass tracks that gel into something downright anthemic. “Indirect” is a moody, drum machine-bolstered nugget that rocks like a lost Joy Division hit. The album’s closer, “Empty Husk,” crushes at a glacial pace, crowned by the pensive twang of Schellenberg’s guitar and some of his rawest, most revealing, most unsettling lyrics: “I was fifteen when he wrapped his hands around my neck and started to push / I’ve reached that point I was afraid of.”


Wrong Dream is teeming with vulnerable lyrics of this nature and this is another facet of the album’s great power. Songs illustrate various forms of trauma, from abuse to tumultuous relationships to the deaths of friends, but Schellenberg explains that it is essentially an album about cause and effect – a meditation on the consequences of choices made, and how one’s life can so easily spiral in one direction or the other. “The concept of the record is, are we pursuing the right dream or the wrong dream,” as he puts it.

Adventurous and painfully honest, Wrong Dream is the sound of a band having the courage to fulfill its potential. While still rife with sounds that will perk the ears of old Tunic fans, and most AmRep or Three One G devotees, Wrong Dream sees Tunic assume an accessible new form – something closer in spirit to Fugazi than to anything that can be neatly boxed as “noise-punk” or another such genre.

Tunic will be touring North America throughout 2023; stand by for news.

Lineup: David Schellenberg – guitar, vocals, Drew Riekman – bass, guitar, vocals, keyboards, Dan Unger – drums

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