Austra Olympia

Austra's sophomore effort, Olympia, is everything its predecessor, Feel It Break, was poised to become; it's the best version of the band we've seen yet. The three-piece, who still fluctuate in numbers, have taken their once two-dimensional sound of chilling midi-synths and added myriad colours of electro-dance fanfare, highlighting improved pop lyrics, as aided by co-songwriter Sari Lightman. Singer Katie Stelmanis still shines as the album's star, with her operatic voice soaring high above the foundation of live instruments — pulsating, house-influenced beats, haunting harmonies and flourishes of strings and flutes. Each song reveals another layer of new, inspiring details Feel It Break's dark fog of gothic intensity often hid, but single "Home" is free to open up, both emotionally and musically, as are other highlights "What We Done?" and "We Become." Just as Feel it Break was a set-up for the giant leap forward we hear on Olympia, one can only hope that this album propels the group to create an even bigger opus for their next effort. This is easily Austra's most exciting and fully formed piece of work yet. (Paper Bag)