Austra are an electro-pop group for Toronto, Canada. Over time, Austra has expanded from a core of three, with bandleader Katie Stelmanis joined by drummer Maya Postepski and bassist Dorian Wolf to a six piece, and the sound has naturally become bigger for it. That has meant letting some of the mystery from 2011’s Polaris Prize-nominated Feel It Break give way to the throb of Olympia, released on June 18. But the new album still showcases Stelmanis’ powerhouse of a voice and increasingly personal lyrics, keeping one foot in the conservatory even as both are occupied on the dance floor.
First single ‘Home’, begins with shiny, classic piano teamed with Stelmanis’ operatic vocals at the fore front before it morphs into a slinky piece of piano-house. After the first heart ache chorus of “You know it hurts me when… You don’t come home at knight”, the bridge is where the Austra really lock in the groove and experiment with flutes and bongo drums. All fit in well and keep to the essence of the original idea laid down by Stelmanis and her piano at the start of the track.
‘Painful Like’ is one for the tracks that go back to the sound of their Polaris Prize-nominated debut Feel It Break. Rolling dance infected bass lines, stripped down rhythms and synths that glow like fire flies in the night rule the third track of Olympia. Stelmanis’ lyrics pull the track back from the sickly sweet brink with, bearing her wounds for all to see, “I held you in my underwear… Someone might see, but I don’t care!”
‘Annie (oh, muse YOU)’ is three minutes and forty seven seconds of class dance tinged electro pop. Stelamins vocals sound most like Florence Welsh amid an electro groove so tasty that it could have its own Michelin star.
Olympia has some great electro pop sounds and will easily get you bopping along but Austra will always be the Katie Stelmanis show because of the talent held in her lungs.