They’re still sombre, but the Manchester pop duo flirt with optimism on a fist-pumping third album
Album Review: Austra - 'Feel it Break'
Katie Stelmanis conjures a touch of devilry
She’s got dramatic lyrical stock to match. Made more macabre by her stern operatics, she castigates traitors (‘Darken Her Horse’) and on ‘Lose It’ her trill could shatter stained glass, flitting from Munchian disconnection (“my face screams without any motion”) to confrontationally intimate (“I came so hard in your mouth”). ‘Spellwork’ casts her as a scavenger, clawing after “bones or anything grown” and that insatiable ambrosia, desire. This dangerous desperation holds court on the searing, near-perfect ‘Beat And The Pulse’, in which devilishly bold synths recall a blunted Knife, Katie’s sexy gasps contrasting with lead vocal stridence.
The tracklisting, however, proves that these treats lie in the record’s first half, the second part not quite hitting such ecstatic peaks. Drum breakdowns drift too on ‘The Villain’’s Gauntlet-ish splutter, and although Katie’s piano skills are impressive, final song ‘The Beast’ is too stripped back and literal, erring a teensy bit on Evanescence balladry. Still, the progression between Katie’s occasionally mawkish solo album and Austra’s debut is remarkable. The odd misfire aside, ‘Feel It Break’ is self-assured and utterly consuming. At this rate, she’ll be leading the pack soon.
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