Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Album Review: Austra.


"Dark synth." "Gloom synth." "Goth pop." These phrases, and many more, have been utilized by people to describe the pristine electronic goodness gracing the debut LP from Austra, a wonderful trio hailing from Toronto, Canada. Now, it's not like I completely disagree with these labels that have been given, but I can report that while there are indeed dark sparkles in their songs, I do not find Feel It Break to be an inherently gloomy work.

Rather, there's more of a mystical earthy feel to the album. It's certainly a sensuous experience, what with vocalist Katie Stelmanis's operatic and soaring voice – there are moments in these 47 minutes that have the power to take one's breath away, it's such a powerful and awesome instrument. Drummer Maya Postepski wields her sticks with fervour and panache, and Dorian Wolf rounds out the trio with his trusty bass.

My God though – this is a fucking brilliant record, from beginning to end. Opening track "Darken Her Horse" starts off like a funereal dirge as dreamt by The Knife, but as it slowly opens its dark petals, this slow-burning flower builds and grows, transforming into a solemn masterwork of sparkling, dreamy gloom pop (I didn't say it was completely free of gloominess). Like early Kate Bush? You'll fucking love this. "Lose It" is a fantastically punchy number, bringing to mind a-ha's early work; as with their keyboardist Magne Furuholmen's handiwork, the synths here are complex, sparklingly clear, and driven to a nearly confectionery sweetness. And then there's the sensual moodiness of the first single off the album, "Beat And The Pulse." Aural sex, pure and simple – it's simply amazing; a riveting track made even more compulsive with its accompanying video featuring mutated dancers. (Mildly NSFW, so you know.) 

All said and done, I find Feel It Break to be a nearly flawless record. There are no bum notes to be found, and repeated listens will reward the intrepid connoisseur of quality electronic music. I trust you all are well; and apologies for having laid so low for such a long time – my visa in Australia has been granted, and now is the time to find a job!

Here's the video for "Lose It." Hopefully you love it as much as I do!

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