Austra – Future Politics

Album Review by Katie Hawthorne | 10 Jan 2017
  • Austra – Future Politics
Album title: Future Politics
Artist: Austra
Label: Domino
Release date: 20 Jan

Draw the curtains, light a candle and polish your crystal ball. It sounds as if Katie Stelmanis’ darkwave electro-pop outfit has been reading plenty of Huxley for her reimagining of our future, but there’s an eerie drip of supernaturalism tangled within the science fiction.

Writing on Facebook about album namesake track Future Politics, she asserts: “It’s time to build visions that are radically different from anything we’ve known before.” A noble statement, but what good are visions when you’re calling for change? The blueprints for the Toronto musician's third album reveal a complacency that jars against the mission statement; rather than a forward-facing examination of possibility and potential, Future Politics relies upon Stelmanis’ majestic, unsettling vocals to lift 11 tracks built from similar bricks.

Stelmanis’ opening question ('What if we were alive?') promises much but as tracks like I’m A Monster and I Love You More Than You Love Yourself offer beautiful but literal examinations of their titles, you begin to suspect that the sentiment rings hollow. Likewise, Deep Thought’s heavenly, bubbling waters reveal little beneath a shimmering surface. And yet, Beyond A Mortal explores unknown subterranean caverns with shivering footsteps and baggy, scratching beats: Stelmanis’ voice reflects and refracts, tracing uncertainties with her breath in icy air. Angel In Your Eye, the record's brave, powerful highlight, harnesses the power of chemical corrosion for a rusted, ominous pop song that is truly haunting. 

On Future Politics we find Austra revolving on the spot, caught in a flattering beam of light but still hovering on the brink of taking those first, brave steps towards a radical utopia. After all, it’s easier to speak of change than it is to cause it.

Listen to: Angel In Your Eye, Beyond A Mortal