Austra
Olympia


3.0
good

Review

by Polyethylene USER (14 Reviews)
July 4th, 2013 | 41 replies | 1,191 views


Release Date: 06/17/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Stronger songwriting, weaker execution. A faintly disappointing sophomore.

2 of 2 thought this review was well written

Canadian synthpop outfit Austra emerged in 2011 with a bang, their first album Feel It Break among the finest debuts in recent memory. It wove gothic electronica around Katie Stelmanis' operatic vocals to stunning effect; picture Kate Bush collaborating with The Knife and you won't be far off. Though a skeptic could write Feel It Break off as unvaried, it was hypnotic in its homogeneity. For that reason, nods from the band to a more diverse and exotic follow-up this year dampened my excitement rather than stoked it.

My fears proved accurate, as Olympia's broader sonic palette comes at a price. Where Feel It Break was a seamless and organic record, Olympia is by comparison loose and unfocused. Its jarring switches in genre don't just occur between songs, but frequently within songs; after forty seconds trembling piano ballad “Home” morphs into an Ibiza club tune, never really making the return trip. This mercurial approach makes Olympia frequently feel less like an album than a collection of remixes.

Though both albums' influences are rooted in 80s dance music, Olympia pays homage to nerdier ancestors and in less subtle fashion. Where Feel It Break elegantly incorporated the arpeggiating synths of Depeche Mode and New Order, the dorky house piano on “Annie, Oh Muse You” and Men at Work-style flutes on the aforementioned “Home” jut out of their songs awkwardly.

Having said that, Olympia does have some gorgeous qualities. Austra's melodies are stronger this time around (see “Forgive Me”), and for the most part Olympia hits harder emotionally. Like before, the production is nothing short of stunning. “Fire” and opener “What We Done?” stand out as the finest tracks here, the latter a not-so-distant relative of Feel It Break's opener “Darken Her Horse.” Though it doesn't match that song in intensity, neither does anything in Austra's catalogue.

After careful consideration, Feel It Break stands as the superior album. Listening to it continues to be a dreamlike experience, as if the songs begin long before you get there and will continue long after you leave. Olympia fails to replicate that ethereality, feeling much more rehearsed and manmade. This was likely a too-many-cooks affair, the six minds behind Olympia producing a weaker dish than its predecessor (which Katie Stelmanis wrote and recorded almost singlehandedly). Maybe it's time to lay off some staff.



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user ratings (14)
Chart.
3
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
Polyethylene
July 4th 2013



3078 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This album only has 4 user ratings and Feel It Break only 44, check these guys out people seriously

RuanCSC
July 4th 2013



131 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I find myself completely unable to enjoy this. Listened to it several times trying to figure out what the praise was all about, but, nah...

Digging: FKA Twigs - LP1

RuanCSC
July 4th 2013



131 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I liked your review, but it reads much more like a 2.5 or a 3.0 at best rather than a 3.5 as you rated it.

Polyethylene
July 5th 2013



3078 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It's a low 3.5, maybe more like a strong 3. Was mainly just venting my disappointment that it isn't as good as Feel It Break, which is fantastic. As a standalone album I very much enjoy it

Polyethylene
July 5th 2013



3078 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Strong 3 is prob more accurate, edited my rating

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
March 24th 2014



23814 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

god I hate that bullshit like this so easily becomes popular

talentless, boring trash

Polyethylene
March 24th 2014



3078 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Heard the first album Aids? Would expect a Pure Heroine fan to love it personally

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
March 24th 2014



23814 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

no and I'm not going to. I was only checking it out cause Austra is at a festival I'm going to in May and I like checking out artists I haven't heard before heading to a festival. I know enough now to know that I'm not going to bother trying to catch their set.

sometimes I like stuff like this (see: Lorde, Metric, Lights...kinda...) but sometimes I hate it so much I want to die (see: Crystal Castles, CHVRCHES, Austra)

not sure why but uhhh, yeah. Lorde = perfect. This = bullshit.

LordePots
March 24th 2014



6577 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

no and I'm not going to. I was only checking it out cause Austra is at a festival I'm going to in May and I like checking out artists I haven't heard before heading to a festival. I know enough now to know that I'm not going to bother trying to catch their set.


thats fucking silly dude you are more open minded than that

you would like their debut a lot better than this

this is to their debut as the new braids is to native speaker

also ive seen them live and they were fucking awesome as fuck

kinda sold me on this album with the live versions, i didnt care for this until after seeing them

Digging: Alt-J - This Is All Yours

LordePots
March 24th 2014



6577 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

god I hate that bullshit like this so easily becomes popular

talentless, boring trash


stop, if you won't even listen to their debut just stop cuz thats what made them popular

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
March 24th 2014



23814 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

don't tell me what to do baish

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
March 24th 2014



23814 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

also you're being silly here but I'm sure you know that. I have perfectly valid reasons for disliking how easily tepid, sugary, vaguely "electronic" indie-pop gets eaten up.

I've got better things to do than listen to an older album by a band whose follow-up I really disliked.

LordePots
March 24th 2014



6577 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

just consider what i said dude i dont want you lookin like an ass on the internet we couldnt have that now could we

you'd like their debut and they are great live end of story

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
March 24th 2014



23814 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

I bet I wouldn't but we'll never know will we!!!!

swed every day bro, every every day

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
March 24th 2014



23814 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

but no I did consider what you said, or at least I saw that the debut was way more well-received but considering how much I disliked this, I can't see myself going over 3/5 for the first one and that's not worth the effort for me. maybe if there isn't a schedule conflict then I'll catch some of their set and give em a chance to win me over live.

LordePots
March 24th 2014



6577 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i wasn't being silly dude there's no need to judge a band in its entirety and be so intense about it based off one album
and the fact that you have a pet peeve for when people like indiepop more than you think they should especially when
you have people tellin ya you'd probably enjoy their other stuff. this album really doesn't resemble the other one, you
should know that not all of a bands stuff sounds the same.

LordePots
March 24th 2014



6577 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i just mean like

god I hate that bullshit like this so easily becomes popular

talentless, boring trash

I've got better things to do than listen to an older album by a band whose follow-up I really disliked.

not worth the effort for me.


come on now dude. dramatic as fuck

is all im sayin here

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
March 24th 2014



23814 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

I don't feel that I'm being intense, but noted.

Honestly I can't see this band having much variety across albums so yeah, it might be an improvement, but I'm guessing it will be in the same arena as this, sonically or blah blah whatever. I know what sort of band they are and I knew what sort of band they are before I jammed this. I'd rather spend my time seeking out and listening to music I'm more confident I will like. Surely this makes sense to you? Not that I don't trust your opinion (and others') I just know what I like and this band isn't it.

You could be right and their first album might become an overlooked classic for me, but that's a risk I'm willing to take. I'm very brave you see.

LordePots
March 24th 2014



6577 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

also triple post my first post reads like some crazy prose wow i feel like a poet



Aids
Contributing Reviewer
March 24th 2014



23814 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

haha so not dramatic but take it that way if you want

i'm just sputniking. I make strange word selections when I post on this site but trust me, I am not being dramatic. I don't care that I don't like this album it's just fun to be grumpy on sputnik.



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