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Albums we’ve liked in 2017: Austra’s ‘Future Politics’

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Three and a half stars

Austra Future Politics

Austra is Katie Stelmanis, a Toronto-based singer-songwriter with a knack for writing and arranging gloomy synth-pop, and a vocal so affecting, she can’t help but transcend her own material. You might need to ease yourself gently into what seems like a dour earnestness—the chorus of the opening track actually goes “What if we were alive,” the first line of every poem ever written in a coffeehouse—but it doesn’t take long before you spot the wry smile hidden behind Austra’s stylish black veil, and Future Politics opens up like a morning daisy.

In fact, that reveal takes only four minutes, 10 seconds—the length of the title track. “The system won’t help you when your money runs out,” declares Stelmanis, over a wicked Eurodisco stomp that falls somewhere between Zola Jesus and old-school Eurythmics. The hot streak continues through the upbeat “Utopia” and “Freepower,” cools to blue in the hypnotic “Beyond a Mortal” and “I Love You More Than You Love Yourself,” and concludes with “Deep Thought,” an honest-to-God harp solo. This is proof of life you can dance to.

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