Right in the midst of our current political climate, Toronto-based synth-pop and electronica group Austra have recently released their third full-length album, Future Politics. A mix of digital beats, new-wave sounds and oh-so-dreamy vocals, Future Politics stands as almost a new form of protest music.
The album consistently boasts politically-charged lyrics, filled to the brim with social commentary on issues from relationships to even our own human existence. Each song presents itself, both lyrically and rhythmically, as a piece to an overarching story, intricately woven throughout to create an image of something better than the here and now.
The album starts off strong with tracks We Were Alive and Future Politics, two songs that oppose one another in terms of rhythm and style, but find harmony in their messages. In the former, lines asking the real questions, such as “What if we were alive?”, parallel the dreamlike digital oasis of the music. A slower track for sure, We Were Alive sets the tone for the rest of the album in its stunning display of incorporating angelic vocals with new-age digital instrumentals. Future Politics also finds itself carrying on this concept, though a tad bit more upbeat. This song is more electronic, less indie and even, dare I say, dance-y. You can definitely bop along to the beat, while taking in the liberalizing message of the song as one of freedom, rejection and clarity. Lyrics such as “I’m looking for something / to rise up above” reveal the song’s initial claim to a better alternative for our world, something more progressive and inclusive — a perfect message for the here and now.
A favourite aspect of the album is the incorporation of underwater beats and translucent sounds. This is most obvious in the track I’m a Monster, where the gorgeous vocals of lead singer Katie Stelmanis sound as if they are rising up from below the surface, tranquil and bubbly. If you close your eyes, it feels as if you’re floating, transported out of your current state and into a new dimension. It’s intensely dreamy, and reminds me of something I would have listened to back in the early 2000s.
Be sure to listen to I Love You More Than You Love Yourself. This song planted itself in my head and refuses to leave. I have constantly caught myself humming the tune under my breath since listening to it and its consistent beat is somehow ridiculously relaxing. It’s new wave meets electropop meets indie, much like the rest of the album. The lyrics are simple and repetitive, such as the reoccurring “I see nothing in your soul tonight / I only see darkness," but their impact is profound.
Future Politics is an album infused with influences from the last three decades, and Austra’s seamless blend of all of these styles creates something truly unique in this modern electropop and techno soundscape. Incorporating the recent trend of synthetic beats with older styles of indie, gothic and new age music, this third album from the group is a refreshing lemon drop in the Canadian music sphere.