Fever Ray, Bjork, Depeche Mode
There are times in one’s life when it is perfectly appropriate to indulge in a guilty moment; to blast saccharine-infused pop into your headphones, hoping no one passing you by would be the wiser. And then there are times when you feel a darker urge, a temptation to wallow in a grey, gloom-tinged gothic moment. During this twinkle of time, Austra should be the background music of choice.
This is the type of music that lures hipsters to dank, sketchy dive bar basements when the sun goes down, inspires goth kids to slap on black eyeliner and dust off the Doc Martens; it teases those too-cool-for school to catch moody, distorted sets of music that can’t really be placed in a specific genre. Yes, all these behaviors could possibly be the result of getting familiar with Canada’s electro-goth export, Austra. The band is composed of vocalist Katie Stelmanis, bassist Dorian Wolf, and percussionist Maya Postepski and have rightfully been compared to Swedish outfit The Knife, although notably less morose, and to atmospheric, pop-minded gothic bands such as the Cure. Part of the allure of Austra might be attributed to Stelmanis’ unique and memorable voice, which she developed as part of the Canadian Children’s Opera Chorus. Austra’s debut, Feel It Break on Domino Records, features her multi-layered vocals harmonizing atop of dark, danceable electronic. Stelmanis’ vocal tremolo can be heard in many of the tracks, including their breakout single “Lose It,” giving their songs an operatic feel at times. The end-result is a sexy yet grimy combination of sonic vocals; hypnotic, throbbing bass and other-worldly synth sounds making Feel It Break an intriguing invitation to the shadow side of electronic dance music – it is at once cerebral and haunting, yet physical and captivating.