There has always been something slightly otherworldly about Austra, the synthpop persona of Canada’s Katie Stelmanis. Her previous records conjured up vast, icy soundscapes shot through with desire, foreboding and occasional rays of tropical warmth. On her third album, Stelmanis reflects on the possibilities of the future through the lens of a troubled present – song titles include Utopia, Gaia and Beyond a Mortal – and the sound, accordingly, has become even more glossy and crystalline, as though generated entirely by machine. As before, her singular vocal presence provides a necessary counterpoint. Her lyrics can be oblique and occasionally ungainly. But her voice – soaring, delicate – brings vulnerability and heat to this vision of a post-human world.
Killian Fox writes about the arts, food, travel and science for the Observer. He won a British Journalism Award in 2020