Austra - Feel It Break
Processional, brooding buzzing electro. Synth drum pads. Vocals sliding out like something extruded, pushed. Despite Zola Jesus comparisons, it's not witch-house (it doesn't have the required skew technicalities) but by heavens the sentiment is close, that purity of intent. Of course it's gothic, baroque. Now we've got that out of the way, are we free to enjoy the record? Even within self-imposed tight stylistic confines, the variety coming from this Toronto trio is a major plus: the opening track is chock full of black leather coats and eye-liner, but along the way we also get a falsetto piece ('Lose It') that Marc Almond would love to call his own and the chiming clarion of 'Beat And The Pulse' which has been out for a couple of months as a strong taster and lead for this album. Vocalist Katie Stelmanis is opera trained but threw it in. Their loss is our gain - she would be equally home letting rip as soloist in a cathedral. If any proof is needed of her classical chops, closing track 'The Beast' loses the electro thrum in favour of a roiling piano piece, and is on its own worth the price of the album. There are sexual politics at play. Katie is clear without overdoing it that being gay, queer sensibility is a major informant to her art. I'm not even sure that needs saying any more in 2011. At least it's out there I guess, in case of any doubt, and perhaps some indication of the road travelled is helpful to explain the art that results.