“She saw the future, and it was dark,” Katie Stelmanis sings on the opening track ‘What We Done?’ of Austra’s latest album, Olympia. The line is a continuation – or a response – from the song ‘The Future’ from the bands debut album Feel It Break (2011), on which Stelmanis sang: ‘I came so hard in your mouth / I saw the future / it was dark’. Olympia was released last week and has effectively shown a significant progression from the darker, twisted, drum-heavy songs that characterized their debut.
Maya Postepski’s pulsating, in your face drum hits are replaced with trance-like synths, saluting to electro-dance music. ‘What We Done?’ begins with a slow, pulsing synth that morphs into a dance house beat after the three-minute mark, topped with Stelmanis’ angelic, elongated sigh.
Two singles have already been released off of the album, ‘Home’ and ‘Painful Like’, the latter of which features perhaps the heaviest drums you’ll hear on the album. ‘Forgive Me’ is a sad lament that blossoms with emotion. The album takes a lower turn when the minute-long ‘I Don’t Care (I’m A Man)’ appears, with lower, more serene sounds. ‘You Changed My Life’ follows in the same frame, with Stelmanis’ haunting vocals that fade into an instrumental minute-long ending.
The album as a whole is much less threatening than the attention-grabbing debut, but showcases a cleaner, yet no less powerful aspect of the trio’s musicality. Olympia is easily the best we’ve seen of Austra, and will hopefully lay the groundwork for what’s to come.