Album #112: Austra – HiRUDiN

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: Toronto, Canada
  • Label: Domino
  • Best Track: Messiah

I’m not sure whether I’ve heard Austra before or not. I thought I had, but I don’t remember them sounding like this. Then again, vocalist and only permanent member of the band Katie Stelmanis does say she wants every album to be an answer to the one before.

Anyway, HiRUDiN is the electronica band’s fourth album, and it’s really all about Stemanis’ wide-ranging, almost Celtic-tinged voice and the coolness and danceability of the beats. I don’t want to say it reminds me of Eurovision as that’s never a compliment, but there is something of a European dance vibe to it, and this as a backdrop to the vocals leave me thinking that this is something close to what you’d get if you crossed Clannad with Daft Punk.

Songs are catchy as well as vocally impressive, particularly ‘Anywayz’ and ‘Risk It’, the latter of which seems to feature a childlike falsetto guest vocalist, certainly creating a standout moment. I think final track ‘Messiah’ is my favourite though, sounding like something of a requiem, and fading out with Stemanis’ haunting coos.

It does seem like music almost anyone could like. Easy listening and mainstream enough to appear on Smooth Radio, yet at the same time carrying an edge to suit the much more finicky music lover (*raises hand), I suppose the only danger is that it’s too universal to really hook anybody in.

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