In Katie Stelmanis’s dystopia, we are an anxious species. The Canadian songwriter and producer’s third album describes a world in which technology alienates us. Its title track – about greed, the “system” and a need to fight evil with empathy – acquires a pointed sense of prophecy through being released on the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration. But unlike other apocalyptic art – Blade Runner or Gary Numan’s Replicas – it lacks that eerie atmosphere of electric futurism that makes a grim vision so seductive. Her theatrical, heartfelt vocal performance is pitted against the electronic soundbed’s sleek, mechanical thump. But instead of a jarring war of physical versus machine-made worlds, it can feel cold, or just too oblique. Melodies are meandering, out of reach. Future Politics succeeds in conjuring the current feeling of exhaustion and the modern malaise – but is more like the confused anticipation of the present every day rather than the post-apocalyptic future.
Austra: Future Politics review – theatrical pop for alienated people
Harriet Gibsone is a freelance journalist