Pop & Rock 2011: 30 Best Albums

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Pop & Rock 2011: 30 Best Albums
7. Austra Feel it Break (Paper Bag)
Katie Stelmanis' captivatingly haunting yet serenely operatic voice ranges from ice cold to hot blooded in the thick of Austra's musical universe. Surrounded by sweeping synth hooks, old school bass boogie, a duo of angelic vocalists and beating drums, the Toronto-based creative trio is a musical force to be reckoned with. Austra made a name for themselves this year with a stellar album consisting of dark haunting melodies illuminated by immediate electro grooves. Songs breathe, and often brood instrumentally before Stelmanis injects her alluring voice. Throughout a wholeheartedly solid album, it is hard to choose favourites. Feel It Break evokes a homogenized mood, which is not a bad thing at all. Austra chooses their musical weapons wisely and stick to their guns. While Feel It Break owes a lot to retro synth pop and '80s new wave, it contains the workings of a band who seek to carve their own sound rather than follow musical trends or rest on their laurels. A stripped-down, piano driven ballad that concludes the release ("The Beast") is a testament to the depth of Austra's creative future. Feel It Break was a breath of cool air in 2011 that heralded Austra many accolades. The group reflected the positive response by constantly touring. Continuing their emphasis of artistry and creativity within creeping cinematic synth-psych will definitely yield the group an exciting future, and fans; the fruits of Austra's labours.
Chris Burek

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