Paper Bag Records

I guess when you’re in a band you tour a lot. And when you tour you’re constantly faced with the challenge of entertaining an audience, an audience that usually wants to move and groove. So it’s no wonder Austra changed their sound on their new album. The opening track sets the tone for the rest of the album by actually lifting the spirits of the listener and making them feel good. The passion and intensity of previous Austra/Katie Stelmanis releases are still in full effect, but this time it is channeled in a much more light-hearted way. Take the catchy lyric from “Home”: “You know that it hurts me when / you don’t come home at night.” It’s a dark lyric, but it’s delivered in such a way that it doesn’t get bogged down with being too heavy. Part of this has to do with Stelmanis’s operatic voice, which reminds listeners of the bravado usually reserved for the lead singers of heavy metal bands. And the songwriting, which has a very ’80s dance vibe to it throughout the album, helps us from taking things too seriously, something Austra should be criticized for doing in the past. Austra’s new direction is a positive one, and it should widen their fan base while also staying true to the passion that brought us to them in the first place.

—Dana Corrigan

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