Austra – Feel It Break (Domino)
By Kelly McClure
Aside from a very select few, the albums that I’ve been exposed to in the past few years have been like little farts in a car. They’ve been warm, and fresh, impossible to avoid, and their stink clung to me until a stronger stink covered that stink up. Music has left me feeling so underwhelmed that when an album comes along that makes me want to duct tape it to my breast plate and hold it close to me under my shirt so I can feel its weight everywhere I go, well, yeah, I get a little emotional. I get appreciative! It makes me want to share what I’ve found with everyone around me, which can also be a dangerous thing because sometimes people are like, “I don’t get it”, and then I have to put them out to pasture with the other people who are just wrong. (This is the point where an editor tells you you’re burying the lede) So here it is: Austra, a Canadian based band fronted by Katie Stelmanis and given primal heart by Maya Postepski (also from the band TRUST) is releasing Feel It Break on 17 May. This album is perfect in a way that makes me want to ride horses in slow motion towards a battle to defend someone’s honor. It makes me want to sit in the dark and have revenge fantasies. At the very least it makes me feel superior for liking it so much. I can’t understand it, or explain it (though I suppose this is me trying) so let’s go through the whole album together and do our best.
1. Darken Her Horse
This is a pretty mellow intro to the rest of the album. Stelmanis warms her classically trained vocals and Postepski flexes her muscles from behind the drums. This is the song you’d play during your second major make-out session with someone, when you’re not nearly as reserved as you were during the first one, but not quite ready to reveal that you’re into knife sex. “Hold her by the reigns,” Stelmanis sings. Yeah, I bet…
2. Lose It
This is a song that Stelmanis has been performing live for over a year during her pre-Austra days but now it’s got a little bit of money behind it. To hear the earlier version of this song you can imagine Stelmanis behind her synth, cracking her knuckles in frustration like, “God! If only I could afford proper equipment to make this sound exactly how it should!” Well, let’s give a golf clap to Daddy Domino, because now it does. It’s all high notes and layered vocals melted over crisp electronics.
3. The Future
Stelmanis has said that she intended her early work to be enjoyed through headphones, in an emotional and personal way, and for Austra to open up the possibility of dancing. Now, something about that has goth written all over it. (You can see it can’t you? Pulling imaginary cobwebs out of your hair and twirling them around on the dance floor?) And while this is a little more sophisticated than coffin-shaped lunchboxes and mascara trails down your cheeks at a booth in Dennys, it puts the thought (maybe buying a cloak isn’t such a bad idea) into your head. This song has some pep to it and an addictive break. Grab those cobwebs.
4. Beat And The Pulse
This is the single. Listen to it on the internet somewhere.
This is the song for the boys in the goth club. And I don’t mean that to be gender specific (I have to say that now, I just moved to Olympia) but it’s what would bring them away from the bar so they could do that alternating shoulder/high step dance that they do. It’s deep deep synth that rattles your kidneys. There are lyrics in here about evil and fire and burning. Work it out. Work it out.
6. The Choke
This song makes me delirious. DELIRIOUS! I have no idea what she’s saying. Stelmanis sings “the lamp, the card, the door” (I think) and then starts talking about Niagra? Who knows. Who cares! This is the one that I play over and over. It sounds big. It just sounds cold and big and that is exactly the sort of sound I prefer. It’s about choke sex, right?
7. Hate Crime
Meh. This song is still really good. She sings about consent forms. My mind always wanders during this track. I’m listening to it right now and she just started singing about her apartment. I think Stelmanis wrote this song while doing chores around her house.
8. The Villain
This would be the song they’d play during ‘Ladies’ Choice’ at the class of 2011’s New Moon themed prom. “Unleash your demon and have your say,” I think she says. Now she’s singing about gardens. Just let it happen. I’m dancing in my pajamas as I type this and having the time of my life.
9. Shoot The Water
Do you ever indulge those daydreams where you’re out for the night, dancing somewhere with a really hot date, and you’re completely comfortable and everything is going really smoothly? Like your hair looks great and your outfit makes you feel really confident and stuff? Well this song is like that. This is another one I play over and over. I’d want to maybe have this at the ready, like on a boom box or something, and hit play whenever my ex-gf walked into sight so then I could look off to the side and pretend I didn’t see her.
10. The Noise
This is another song that Stelmanis has been performing for awhile. This sounds very civilized. I could hear this on the Marie Antoinette 2 soundtrack, if, well…
11. The Beast
There’s a lot of really nice piano on this one, which is Stelmanis showing off before the album comes to an end. “Am I free now, am I at peace?” she sings. At this point I’m catching my breath to start all over from track one and coming to terms with the fact that Austra is a band filled with slick attitude, and how I firmly believe that that’s OKAY, as long as you’re attractive, or talented, or both – which this entire band is. It’s OK to be snooty, or overly dramatic. It’s OK to write lyrics about blood and beasts and choke sex. Just make me feel something. Feel It Break makes me feel a lot of things.
Feel It Break is out 17 May