“I still have radical hope for the future, and I would be honoured for Future Politics to be a part of your soundtrack to creating change.” Somewhat unfortunately, Austra’s latest offering fell on the same day as the dreaded inauguration of US President Donald Trump. Two years ago, when lead singer Katie Stelmanis started writing Future Politics, who would’ve thought this would’ve been looming in our future?
Future Politics offers an optimistic outlook to the doom and gloom you’d expect from such a dystopian event, echoed in the band’s donations to Planned Parenthood on the release day. Austra’s sound still remains from 2013 release, Olympia, but delivers a minimal ambience to Stelmanis’ trademark operatic voice.
Pitting her voice against the electronic sound bed has a cold, eerie effect on the thumping tones throughout the album. ‘We Were Alive’ opens us to the existential question of “What if we were alive?” over harsh chords, almost like we’ve just witnessed the apocalypse and the end credits were about to roll.
The title track sums up the whole essence of the album. “I’m never coming back here” is pretty relatable at this moment in time. The Canadian singer probably feels that hard in the current state of the world. Strangely upbeat after the opening track, it sets the tone for the majority of the album, lively but full of melancholy.
‘Utopia’ is the epitome of what the album is seeking to help us discover through times of turmoil. “I only want to hold your hand my own damn life/I can picture a place where everyone feels it too.” The romantic essence guides us through the angelic background vocals and dominant melodies of trance synths and joyous high notes.
If you’re seeking a sweet dance track, ‘I Love You More Than You Love Yourself’ gives the perfect crossover of getting you to sway on the dance floor right into silently rocking in the foetal position in the corner of said dancefloor. ‘Beyond A Mortal’ starts off sounding like a glitch in the system, before descending into 5 minutes of beautifully layered arrangements to accompany the haunting vocals.
What would an album be without a minute-long harp interlude? ‘Deep Thought’ offers a slight escape from the sea of emotions expressed in the earlier part of the album, until we reach ‘43’, asking whether we understand what she’s been saying for the past 10 songs. The hollowness in her feelings are truly expressed in the closer.
Divine intervention is the best way to describe Future Politics. A complete coincidence that the release date would fall on the day that dystopia has begun, but Austra’s latest brings the sweet escape you will desperately need.