Young Canadian band Austra have been enjoying escalating success of late, mostly in Eastern Europe where they have just completed a respectable set of tour dates. Creative juices have been flowing freely of late with a full length album released in 2013 and an EP coming out last year, and while both releases have shown some evolution of Austra's sound (most of which revolves around singer Katie Stelmanis' exceptional voice) the band's 2009 debut Feel It Break is the basis from which they have built.
Feel It Break was critically and commercially successful upon its release and showcased a different take on synth based electro-pop of the time (and of now). Stelmanis has said that she was the main writing force behind the album, and it is obvious after a good listen that the instrumentation is designed to showcase her voice. Classically trained and in possession of a dreamy smooth mid range along with a mesmerising higher register, (not to mention an excellent vibrato) Katie Stelmanis is captivating the whole way through.
Maya Postepski adds almost house like drum parts; the whole record definitely tastes of house music of the time, and Dorian Wolf adds the dark, atmospheric bass lines.
Two singles, 'Beat and the Pulse' and 'Lose It' were released in the lead up to the full record, and although they are great tracks, they aren't the standouts for me. The album opens with the huge and ominous 'Darken Her Horse', trapping you with the irresistible rhythm section to give you a taste of what Stelmanis can do. The next few tracks move through some, mostly major, electro pop tracks (Beat and the Pulse for instance) to come to 'Spellwork', a harbinger of the dark power of the band, somewhat unleashed on the last two tracks 'The Noise' and 'The Beast'.
Final track 'The Beast' is the oddball (not by much) in that it moves slightly away from the dance/synth oriented style of the previous ten tracks to a simpler natural keys sound plus vocals. It's catchy, moody, and the vocals are sublime. What's more is it ends just a moment too soon, and you will always want more. It will be a very hard task to get sick of this album - I defy anyone to do so.