Praise. IMMENSE praise– for the creative development of Katie Stelmanis and her rare, tremulous bird voice, swooping and soaring higher than ever, supported by her bandmates in Austra and the epic production value on their recent release, Feel It Break. Kudos to Bjork/Prodigy/UNKLE producer, Damian Taylor, for lifting them up on his capable shoulders. Such a strong, vivid dream of an album; a “100% dud-free collection”, as Stereogum puts it.
The inevitable Zola Jesus and Karin Dreijer Andersson comparisons are pouring in, and let them. There are some parallels, for sure: dark witchy prowess, shamanic danceability, classically trained chops, sharp songwriting skills, unconventional presentation. It’s electronic pop steeped in earnest ritual.
But dial back the scrumptious bleep and bloop effects a bit. When the arrangement is primarily just Stelmanis and her piano (as with the final, breathtaking track “The Beast”), it becomes clear that the album’s most powerful magic lies simply in that voice. There’s something humbling, and deeply healing, about that.