Austra is a Canadian collective centred around the talents of singer and producer Katie Stelmanis. Feel It Break was probably their most well known record being shortlisted for the coveted Polaris prize. It sees the group making dark and atmospheric electronic pop that sits somewhere between then then (and now) popular Zola Jesus and the Knife.
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With the success of Zola Jesus and The Knife reverberating indefinitely, it was about time for a Frankenstein-like welding of the two. Austra appear purpose built on paper, gothy female vocals? Check. Old school electro pop? Check. What is forgotten though is that good albums are built around strong songs, memorable lyrics and that thing you can't put into words when it just works as a cohesive whole and becomes a soundtrack to a particular part of your life. No manner of clever pastiche can cover up the feeling that this is style over substance. The songs are ok but not particularly strong, the vocals, most reminicent of ahead-of-their-time 80's euro-poppers Propaganda, are samey and the production marked Depeche Mode circa 'Speak and Spell' is tinny and irritating on the ear. The reason Zola Jesus works is that her particular brand of electronica is distant, dusty and evocative, this is too clean, too polished, too calculated. There is the odd memorable moment - 'Lose It' builds up nicely to a catchy coda and the switch in style to Moroder style disco on 'Beat and the Pulse' is a big improvement on what comes before, creating icy Germanic soundscapes and finally a pervading sense of late night melancholy.
9/10 Austra – Feel It Break [Review] | PhotogMusic 19th May 2011
beats seem to overtake her vocals, but it is a dance electronica record overall. The whole album is filled with haunting vocals of Katie with the dark hypnotic electronic
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