13 Songs, 49 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Austra’s second album veers off the ‘80s path for a sound more in keeping with current artists like Florence + The Machine or Likke Li, which is both inevitable and wise. You can only mine that territory so long before your synth tones and dance rhythms start running into each other. The Toronto band (now six members) push the bounds of their particular pop arena carefully and thoughtfully, resulting in a stellar follow-up to 2011’s Feel It Break. They’re flexing a little more muscle here, and Katie Stelmanis’ vocals are the unerring sinewy core running through the entire album. Her voice still stuns, owing to its husky, mystical qualities (at times like Amber Webb of Lightning Dust) and her operatic training—it’s simply an awesome combination. There may not be an immediate sweet spot like “Lost It” from Feel It Break, but the ABBA-esque swirl of “Forgive Me” comes awfully close, as does the bittersweet and fleet “Home,” with its fleet congas and piano riffs. “What We Done” is a slow burner that takes its sweet time (three minutes) to fully launch, while “Hurt Me Now,” with harps and gloomy keys, is a gothy treasure.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Austra’s second album veers off the ‘80s path for a sound more in keeping with current artists like Florence + The Machine or Likke Li, which is both inevitable and wise. You can only mine that territory so long before your synth tones and dance rhythms start running into each other. The Toronto band (now six members) push the bounds of their particular pop arena carefully and thoughtfully, resulting in a stellar follow-up to 2011’s Feel It Break. They’re flexing a little more muscle here, and Katie Stelmanis’ vocals are the unerring sinewy core running through the entire album. Her voice still stuns, owing to its husky, mystical qualities (at times like Amber Webb of Lightning Dust) and her operatic training—it’s simply an awesome combination. There may not be an immediate sweet spot like “Lost It” from Feel It Break, but the ABBA-esque swirl of “Forgive Me” comes awfully close, as does the bittersweet and fleet “Home,” with its fleet congas and piano riffs. “What We Done” is a slow burner that takes its sweet time (three minutes) to fully launch, while “Hurt Me Now,” with harps and gloomy keys, is a gothy treasure.

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