I haven’t been excited about much new music over these past few months. Maybe it’s because all the jazz I’ve been listening to lately has made me more picky, or maybe it’s just been a case of not hearing the right thing. RTJ3 was a slam dunk, to be sure—and one that I never even got around to writing about due to the holidays—but other than that? I just haven’t encountered much modern music that has had me excited.
But then, friends, it happened; I heard Austra’s new album, Future Politics. Austra is the indie synth-pop brainchild of Katie Stelmanis, and Future Politics is a rich, rewarding record that only gets better the more you listen. Her voice is wonderful, the production is flawless and the lyrics are much more fascinating than a lot of other acts that tread somewhat similar ground.
And it’s OK if you aren’t familiar with Austra’s other efforts—I wasn’t either! That’s part of the fun, right? You discover an artist and then you go back and start doing your research.
Future Politics starts strong, kicking off with three of my favorite tracks on the album. Opener “We Were Alive” immediately grabs your attention, with Stelmanis singing beautifully over a backdrop of drum machines and synths. She reminds me of Fever Ray here, actually, though much less menacing. “Future Politics” is next, upping the intensity both with her voice and the track’s production. I’m never coming back here, Stelmanis sings. There’s only one way: Future Politics!
Those are followed by lead single “Utopia,” which shows off the more upbeat, catchy side of Austra’s music. There’s still fire behind that voice, sure, but it’s clear why this one was chosen as a single; it’s a bit more fun than the rest of the record, the kind of song you’d want on in the car while you tear down the highway with the windows down. If you like Chvrches at all, for instance, you may want to start here.
Those are just the first three tracks, of course, and Future Politics is great from beginning to end. “Angel in Your Eye” is another highlight, especially its lush, instrumental bridge, and the bouncy, fiery “Freepower” deserves some special attention as well.
Overall, if you like synth-pop acts, you must give Future Politics a close listen. I admit that this genre doesn’t always speak to me, but Austra has had my attention since I first heard Stelmanis sing.