After a steady decline from their debut Feel It Break, Austra return with their fourth effort, Hirdudin. Its a resurgence of inspiration spearheaded by heartbroken pains that ripple through the warm mix of soft pianos and electronic instruments tinged in melancholy. As they do, simple song structures and short looping melodies create a glossy and modern, yet 80s Synthpop inspired setting for Stelmanis to flex her remarkable voice, becoming the beacon that makes it all work. Its opening songs remark on this stasis of hurt, after going through a brutal parting. The juxtaposition with playful, uplifting melodies is entrancing as her words walk a dark path.
Growing past its powerful opening, the album plays with some sparse instrumentals to emphasize the power of Katie's stunning vibrato, almost robotic and inhuman at times, mesmerizer! On the track Risk It she again surprises with chipmunk high pitched singing thats surprisingly catchy, fun and not annoying. The mid-tempo dance groove below livens up the mood and after a couple more songs Mountain Baby is another ear catcher with its stiff yet charming nursery piano melody leading the tone. Not doubt this inclination is played up by the choir of kids singing sweetly in the intro.
On the very first play few I knew the album had come to an end with the arrival of Messiah. It reminded me of The Beast, a very powerful closing song from their debut. The piano and Katie's singing build up this oozing suspense that gets suspended and dissipated as the chords hammer away as airy reverberations and subtle cosmic synths sweep it all up and away. A stunning finale to a reasonable record that's far from perfect but has plenty of emotional out-pour to be embraced.
Favorite Tracks: Anywayz, All I Wanted, How Did You Know, Mountain Baby, Messiah