Returning for a third stab at the ethereal, Canada’s Katie Stelmanis (AKA Austra) returns with eleven tracks tackling the strange and savage times we find ourselves in. Following the trend set on previous effort ‘Olympia’, the beats continue to become crunchier, direct and undoubtedly more contemporary — but unfortunately less interesting also.
Where fellow Canuck Grimes has mastered this marrying of the spectral and basic rhythm, things sound noticeably more forced here. This is most clearly felt on the titular number, a track featuring outstanding vocals and insightful lyrical content ruined by the use of bafflingly out-dated rave womp womp womps.
Luckily, numbers such as ‘Utopia’ manage to get the balance right, providing a first-rate slice of danceable isolation, introspection never sounding so catchy. ‘I’m A Monster’ lets Stelmanis unleash the true power of her haunting vocal technique, while production on ‘Beyond A Mortal’ comes straight from the Aphex ambient schoolbook, creating an album highlight in doing so.
An artist with such musical talents is always going to make an impression, but with ‘Future Politics’ the manner in which things have been presented has let the final product down. While others thrive in the cold beating heart of electro, Austra soars in the stratosphere, elevated by a more organic approach.
Words: Sam Walker-Smart
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