AUSTERLITZ are a ‘three-piece electro-indie / art punk band from Paris’ – although I doubt that description neither does them complete justice nor adequately portrays the interesting blend of music they produce.
In fact I would go further and actually condemn the press sheet description of ‘electro-indie’ as quite misleading. Had I read that prior to playing the album I would have been dreading what to expect. In fact, I was immediately taken with it. Sure, there are synths and keyboards to the fore, but guitar and bass nicely balance their use. There are no vocal styles that hark back to the Eighties like so may ‘electro’ bands seem to consider necessary and there is not a hint of almost twee sound that sometimes besmirches the ‘indie’ banner.
No – this altogether a far more individual and varied sound.
Opening track ‘Walking Into The Fire,’ sounds as if influenced by the early Seventies Prog Rock of bands like Yes and Supertramp. It’s a delightfully refreshing listen, busy with the keyboard arpeggios flitting around like little butterflies and high-toned vocals. ‘Smoothing My Anger,’ is more guitar-driven, with the riff that the whole song is built upon sounding very much like that of ‘Another Girl, Another Planet,’ by The Only Ones. ‘Happy Song?’ slows it all a little. It’s still a really full sound and with a really hooky and melodic chorus, while ‘Seattle Town’ opens with a dark and heavy guitar riff – kind of in the mould of Lenny Kravtiz.
So, you can already see that this isn’t exactly your common or garden ‘electro –indie,’ album!
‘Rotten Ears’ is darker and angrier in sound with the vocals taking a more spoken delivery over a pretty pissed-off sounding bass line. ‘Away,’ is the most laid back track on the album. It’s pleasant, but I’ve got to say not as memorable or exciting as the other tracks. Still, every LP’s got to have one, I suppose.
‘No Sir,’ returns the listener to the world of hook-laden harmonies (dual vocals) riff-laden guitars, pounding, driving drumming and big ‘whoa-whoa’ choruses. ‘Yes But With You,’ has a more determined and deliberate pace with again some strong vocals. It has its moments, but nothing spectacular. ‘Stand By,’ on the other hand is based on a brooding, dark synth base. It has a kind of scuzzy underbelly, but lightened with the higher-toned vocals.
‘Stay In Line,’ is the first to be sung (partly at least) in vocalist Gil Charvet’s native French language. It comes as a little surprise for two reasons: first is that after about thirty-five minutes to this point, you have forgotten that these guys are from across The Channel, such has been the lack of any connecting accent on the preceding tracks; secondly, this song has more of a ‘dance’ feel to it – more tailored to club-land, perhaps? Closing track ‘All That You Said,’ utilises some gentle voice distortion for the first time. The chorus is very catchy with its key-changes and the synths this time (for the first time really) do actually fit the ‘electro’ tag.
Overall, I was impressed with this album from the first time I heard it and even though there are a couple of tracks that do seem to lose their way and merely drift and meander towards their closure, it would be well worth any self-respecting label checking these guys out.
(8.5 / 10)