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Austra, ‘Olympia’

One listen to Austra’s 2011 debut, “Feel It Break,” and it was clear that frontwoman Katie Stelmanis was not like the other girls. She’s a classically trained singer with a pedigree honed from performing with a children’s opera chorus. It made sense, then, that her Toronto band’s first album was an electro-pop confection fraught with brooding drama and tension, a direction that continues on Austra’s new sophomore release. “Olympia” finds the six-piece operating on a broader plane, letting some light creep into arrangements that toggle between big, throbbing beats and quieter, Gothic introspection. A somnambulant sheen hangs over “Sleep,” while “Annie (Oh Muse, You)” thumps with a primal heartbeat and “Painful Like” summons the ghosts of ’80s new wave. “Home” picks up the tempo even more with a jaunty piano line surrounded by tropical flutes and guttural grunts. Stelmanis’s voice, as ever, remains the focal point, swooping down hard on notes with a tremor that belies just how sturdy her songs are. (Out Tuesday)


Austra performs at Brighton Music Hall
on Sept. 24.

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