Originally published and still available at The Girls Are (20/06/14).
Austra, Habitat EP, Domino
Austra shrug off their prior poppiness and remove themselves from their usual musical dwelling. Lunging swiftly back into the fray following their second album in 2013, Habitat is a rather dark affair, which creates an instinctual belief that something more sinister lurks beneath the EP’s electronic glitter.
‘Doepfer’ melds a skittish refrain over a stomping beat that results in a creepy slice of semi-industirial, whilst EP closer ‘Hulluu’, brushes aside the aforementioned sterility and plunges the listener deep into an chillingly exotic realm of sinewy, tribal tension. The hubbub is blended together by the hypnotic ‘Bass Drum Dance’, the thumping electronica of which is overlaid with an almost archaic refrain that tapers into vocalist Katie Stelmanis’ whimsical lilt.
The jewel in this petite diadem is easily the title track. ‘Habitat’ makes for an almost uncomfortable experience as it presents the listener with murmurs of untold desire. Indeed, it raises questions of what humans consider their own habitual instincts to be whilst Stelmanis’ hauntingly ethereal vocals croon ‘I want you, I need you’ like an evocative spectre of the night.
As a whole, Habitat is certainly an unconventional array of sound that somehow slips away from any disjointed assumptions, and perhaps it’s just this scope of attributes that make it work as a collection. There’s a sneaking suspicion these tracks would not have sat well within a longer and more meditated body of work, however, this peculiar group of songs prove that musical misfits are well worth the listen.