Escape into the ether with Austra.
Escape into the ether with Austra.

Austra at Grand Central November 2

Comprising a simple rhythm section backing up keyboardist and vocalist Katie Stelmanis, Toronto trio Austra harks back to the clean and clear electro of the early to mid-'00s, before tropical, chillwave, witch house, and other made-up genre memes drowned the blogosphere in a tidal wave of goth triangles at the beach. Not to mention, Stelmanis has some serious vocal pipes.

"Beat and the Pulse," the first single from Austra's debut LP, Feel It Break, set the stage for the group's brooding electro-pop, reminiscent of '00s staples such as the Knife and spinoff ensemble Fever Ray. The song's driving beat and pulsing synth arpeggios are a fitting soundtrack to the video's Fionna-Apple-at-an-American-Apparel-work-party aesthetic.

However, Stelmanis and company's followup, "Lose It," greatly separates them from their more overtly clubby predecessors, thanks in no small part to the singer's soaring vocals. The backdrop is a twinkling, speedy instrumental, bright enough to set the tone. The song is nostalgic, redemptive, and generally emotive, where "Beat and the Pulse" was an ice-queen jam. But it's also sparse enough for the vocalist to show off her classically trained cords with equal parts bravado and vibrato.


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