Austra Feel It Break

Austra Feel It Break
Katie Stelmanis has been a Toronto indie scene staple for a couple of years now, but it's in Austra that she's been able to best harness her powerful, operatic croon and penchant for minor keys. First single "Beat and the Pulse" gave a hint of the moody direction that Stelmanis, now aided by Maya Postepski (formerly of Galaxy) and Dorian Wolf (formerly of Spiral Beach), would take, and they've made good on that promise. Feel It Break is chock full of sweeping, melodic songs that conjure reminiscences of mid-'80s new wave synth-pop melodrama. And while there's nothing extraordinary about the band technically ― these are mostly straightforward pop tunes with conventional rhythms and instrumentation ― Feel It Break is arguably about mood more than musicality. Throughout, Austra imbue the album with a sense of doom, which Stelmanis ably punctuates with her stirring vocal performances, as on "Spellwork" and "The Noise." Closing ballad "The Beast" is a definite highlight, with its rolling piano and affective lyrics, but Feel It Break isn't about highs and lows; it's about their ability to connect with listeners on a seemingly spiritual level that make Austra compelling. (Paper Bag)