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Album Review: Austra - Future Politics

12 January 2017 | 2:52 pm | Guido Farnell

"It's the '80-styled electro hooks that make the earworms."

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As a decidedly golden hue fills the future of politics in one particular country, Austra deal their third album Future Politics.

Breaking with the more indie-flavoured synth pop of Olympia, this album finds the outfit ready to hit the clubs and pull shapes as they deal out pop songs that cruise on into feel-good electro house grooves. The four-on-the-floor bounce and swirling synths are nothing that we haven't heard before but it's the '80-styled electro hooks that make the earworms, which rather delightfully eat their way into our minds. The title track is a calculated floor-filler that preaches optimism instead of protest. Katie Stelmanis' angelic vocals float across the mix to breathtaking effect. It is the key element that distinguishes Austra from the rest of the pack. She rather obviously situates herself somewhere between Kate Bush and Bjork (before she went abstract). Stelmanis dramatically tends towards the operatic, but avoids the more idiosyncratic excesses of her sometime-collaborators Tasseomancy.

At times Austra move beyond the beats to deal raw emotions. The heartbreak of I'm A Monster delivers the tear-stained lyric, "I don't feel nothing, anymore," as emotional vulnerability sinks into an uneasy sludge of numbing, heavy beats. The drifting melancholy coos and sighs of Beyond A Mortal is where Stelmanis unwinds and shows her strength while exhibiting total control. A brilliantly realised advance on Olympia.