Album Reviews: Austra, CSS

AustraOlympia500Austra are back with Olympia, what they call their ‘dance’ record. We’re not quite sure precisely which dance they’re referring to – it’s a bit dark for a lindy-hop – but by gum, ’tis wonderful. Though they’ve toured with the xx and Grimes, they perhaps show more influence from the Knife (pre-Shaking the Habitual, you know, back when they were good) and Zola Jesus, particularly in the bravura vocal performance of Katie Stelmanis. Painful Like, Sleep, and the lead single Home (below) are certainly a strong enough second calling card for a band that remain curious in their evolution.

42414_originalConversely, it’s not good news for CSS, who if anything seem to be devolving and falling the way of the lesser-spotted Uffie. Hipster darlings years ago, the Brazilian outfit have simply failed to capitalise on any of the currency they earned with their entertaining (though hardly groundbreaking) debut. Band leader Lovefoxxx – even the name sounds dated – embarrassingly bumbling through horn-blaring Hangover and the laborious Girlfriend; meanwhile, Dynamite opens with a spluttering cough, which actually ends up being the most preferable aspect of the song. While CSS may have paved the way for a lot of girl-power electropop, it’s an unfortunate irony that they haven’t updated their own sound at all. If there’s any saving grace it’s Wild Flowers, but at this stage they’re about as relevant as The Go! Team.