It’s no secret that Toronto spawned Austra have gained some reputation since their beginnings in 2009. With their first album ‘Feel It Break‘ shortlisted for the 2011 Polaris Music Prize, they were rocketed into the public eye with sterling reviews and even a few mentions of album of the year. Following this success is their latest offering, Olympia, a 13-track (bonus track version available via iTunes) whopper of a production, showcasing more of the vocal and musical talents of Katie Stelmanis.
From the outset with ‘What We Done?’, the goliath synth and massive vocals shine through immediately, showing that not only have Austra kept their original sound that made them famous, they’ve evolved it. The often haunting melodies provide a beautiful overlay to the deeper sounds of the back line, which are explored as the record goes on. Pulsing rhythms provided by both the drum beats and synthesisers give a strong backbone, with delicate additions of more orchestral decorations intertwined. By track 4, ‘Sleep’, the driving rhythm is in full swing to give the power the sound craves, daring the album to go on. Going on into the albums first single, ‘Home’, the flawless clarity of Stelmanis is absolute, and continues to dominate the listener until closing on ‘Hurt Me Now’, a clincher of a track for a finale. Finishing on all of the strengths the album has constructed, this is a brilliantly chosen and well deserved lasting impression for Olympia as a whole.
Tempo changes with tracks like ‘I Don’t Care (I’m A Man)’ and ‘You Changed My Life’, help to divide the album with a steady pace, holding the interest and intrigue of what may come next. Evolution is certainly the word that stays in mind when considering this work as a whole, and this band show no signs of slowing down. Great things have already emerged from this band, and with an album like this it looks like there are plenty more yet to come.