Olympia - Austra
Metascore
76

Generally favorable reviews - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. Jun 17, 2013
    80
    Austra opts for a more balanced and poised version of the sound they set forth on Feel It Break; even though that album's rough edges and raw nerves were a large part of what made it so potent, Olympia feels like the beginning of a more sustainable, and versatile, direction for the band.
  2. The growth in Austra from Feel It Break to Olympia is palpable throughout.
  3. Jun 20, 2013
    80
    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.
  4. Jun 13, 2013
    80
    It duly delivers, comprising a first-rate electro set rich with the imagination of songwriter Katie Stelmani.
  5. Jun 20, 2013
    70
    It doesn’t push boundaries in the same way that Feel It Break busted up notions of genres, but its smooth production stabilizes the lyrics’ emotional bombast.
  6. 80
    Olympia’s aura pervades the listening sphere Austra has fabricated for their second LP, transcending the frozen cave of their first to the upper echelons of atmospheric dance-pop.
  7. Jun 17, 2013
    70
    It meanders a touch in the middle, but in general Olympia is a genuinely bold attempt from Austra to expand on their debut while retaining most of what it was that made them stand out in the first place.
  8. Jun 13, 2013
    80
    Everything’s so crisply atmospheric, and Stelmanis is such a talismanic presence, that the album’s momentum never flags, even if there’s sometimes a minute or two without a hook.
  9. Jun 18, 2013
    90
    This is easily Austra's most exciting and fully formed piece of work yet.
  10. Jun 19, 2013
    80
    Austra do a stellar job of navigating a sea of vintage synth sounds and applying them tastefully and appropriately so that they sound at once both retro-cool and strikingly forward-thinking.
  11. Jun 17, 2013
    70
    Debbie Downer, perhaps, but Austra sure knows how to make misery sound like a good time. [No.99, p.52]
  12. Jun 13, 2013
    70
    Nothing here quite matches the excitement of Feel It Break highlights The Beat And The Pulse and Lose It (although Home, Forgive Me, Painful Like and Annie (Oh Muse You) all come close). But this doesn’t stop Olympia being a sizeable step up from its predecessor and a fine album in its own right.
  13. 70
    Ultimately this is an album to dance, not cry, to.
  14. Jul 8, 2013
    70
    While the music might still be a bit detached and remote, the more collaborative nature of this record does make it easier to meet half way, as does Stelmanis’ unerring sense of pop melody, and of when to drop a 4/4 beat for maximum effect.
  15. Jun 20, 2013
    60
    The more nuanced approach is less immediate but stands up better to repeated listens.
  16. Jun 18, 2013
    70
    The album sags in its center, with the hooks present and effective, but without immediacy or remarkable sonics to maintain the opening’s momentum.
  17. Jun 26, 2013
    72
    Stelmanis has said she listened to a lot of early Cat Power while recording Olympia, and while nothing here sounds anywhere near as stark, the lyrics often do, and lead appropriately tense, nervy sounding songs.
  18. Jun 21, 2013
    70
    The hits and even the misses on Austra’s latest end up being more revelatory than the one-note perfectionism of Feel It Break, because the music on Olympia reflects what Katie Stelmanis’ songs are about: coming into your own by moving out of your comfort zone.
  19. 83
    Olympia inhabits a strange realm of saturnine electronica meant for cathartic swaying rather than choreographed movement.
  20. Jul 10, 2013
    80
    The plush, throbbing synths and twinkling tension that filled Feel It Break are conjured again here, but there's a subtle shift this time in the dynamic and Olympia's power lies in its marimba-infused percussion. [Aug 2013, p.93]
  21. Jun 18, 2013
    67
    Not all of Olympia’s added complexity works to its benefit, but the album succeeds as a necessary stepping-stone on Stelmanis’ path of artistic discovery.
  22. Jun 13, 2013
    80
    Most of the songs here start like slowburn opener ‘What We Done?’, with Stelmanis’ constantly tremulous voice front and centre surrounded by ever-increasing layers of synths, padded beats and distant percussion. If you can get past it, however, there’s much to enjoy.
  23. Jun 13, 2013
    80
    What's most striking is how great this sounds--clean, considered, with every detail in its place and a clear sense of its own identity.
  24. Katie Stelmanis's emotionally tortured vibrato meshes with her band's lush textures to often-potent effect.
  25. Jun 17, 2013
    80
    Sub-zero synths and crashing drums resound through this fine second album, while the powerful, tremulous voice of frontwoman Katie Stelmanis instils even minor sentiments with a sense of operatic foreboding.
  26. Jun 13, 2013
    70
    While not as fully committed to outright, aloof oddity as contemps like The Knife, they know how to wear some black. [Jun-Jul 2013, p.86]
User Score
8.2

Universal acclaim- based on 15 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Jul 21, 2013
    7
    Austra made their sound just a tiny bit poppier and more danceable and it's done them wonders. It's a very good, gothy synthpop album with excellent, operatic vocals and strong melodies. Full Review »
  2. Jul 5, 2013
    9
    Just when you thought you had heard everything Austra could offer on the rather diverse 'Feel It Break', 'Olympia' comes along with a bang and offers such a magical synth-packed package you'll wish the record would never end. The band went for a more conventional synth-pop direction this time round ('We Become') but kept the quirkiness in their music ('What We Done?', 'Fire') that made us all fall in love with them. Not only the album manages to sound varied while still making the impression of a cohesive set, but also the songs themselves change in sound several times between their beginnings and endings ('Home'), making it impossible for the listener to get bored of them. Although the trio's sophomore album is much more dancey than their previous effort, it isn't short of emotional pieces; 'Olympia' sounds like the perfect bittersweet soundtrack for shedding tears on the dancefloor. Full Review »
  3. Jul 4, 2013
    6
    In 2011 the Canadian 3-piece released their debut album Feel It Break which was a dark and moody electronic album, it had sad overtones, which tremble into Olympia. The album, whilst having a generally more up beat sound to it, does have it's darker moments, like on album opener "What We Done", which is one of the better songs on the album. Austra remain electronic, despite the heavy piano usage throughout the album. Even with greater use of piano, the album still manages to feel dancy.

    After, "What We Done", it's not until "Home" where the album picks itself up from mediocrity. The songs in between feel a bit tired. "Home" uses the sounds of the piano well like "The Beast" did on Feel it Break.

    "I Don't Care (I'm a Man)" is soft and gentle, but it feels to short, more like an interlude, and I wish it was longer because it is one of the stronger ideas that feature on the album. The album from there turns up the "dance" but then also brings in more quiet piano, a theme in the album that sits slightly uneasily with me, it seems like they want to make a dance album, but they want to have the elegance that a piano brings, I'm not to sure.

    By far, the best song along with "Home" is "Hurt Me Now", which surprised me in being the last track. It feels like a song from Feel it Break, or I should rather say, it feels like what Olympia should have been. It's that right transition in sound, it's not as dark, but not to quiet, it's lively, you can dance to it, but it's not confused. I just wish the rest of the album was this focused.

    Overall, Austra bring a mixed bag for album number two, but one that can still be enjoyed, even though there is that thought of "What could have been?"
    Full Review »