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Austerlitz ‘Austerlitz’

Austerlitz are a French three-piece who sound like they have at least double that amount of members. Their new self-titled album spreads across an array of subgenres, and contains such accomplished instrumentation and multiple layers to the point that it’s difficult to comprehend them having only three members – unless each member plays a minimum of two instruments at any one time. Austerlitz are an art-indie-rock bands at heart, but, at times, they sit on a thin line between art-rock and synth-pop, introducing numerous inventive and prominent keyboard riffs and sounds throughout this new album.

Highlights include the progressive electro-rock-pop of the opener ‘Walking Into The Fire,’ which is the best of the synth-pop offerings, mainly thanks to the intricate musicianship and off-kilter time signature. The best track is the indie-pop ballad of ‘Away’ – the piano part is lovely, and the guitars understated, providing one of the only low key, soothing points of the album. However, they are at their best when they go for the staight out, ballsy art-rock – despite the successful atmosphere that Austerlitz manage to create with their keys (which is in a similar vein to Phoenix), there are too many bands pushing the 80s synth-pop-rock vibe at the moment. Superior tracks like ‘Smoothing My Anger’ and the gritty ‘Rotten Ears’ showcase an almost post-rock sound, with their pleasing angular guitar lines bringing to mind bands like The Young Knives.

Singer Gil Charvet’s voice is pretty decent with a fine range, but it’s his lyrics that are the most engaging aspect of the vocals. His English language isn’t spot on – French being his first language – and so his lyrics often contain odd phrasings and his voice has a tint of his native accent, both allowing him to sound interesting and, at times, accidentally eccentric.

The downers of the album are that for an art-rock band the progressive components of Austerlitz aren’t all that apparent, and aren’t all that progressive. Also, the synth-pop element of the music does get a little tiresome after a while – instead of this added layer marking each song sound out as more individual, it actually results it reducing some of the songs to sounding a little too alike. Nonetheless, this is a appealing offering from a relatively young and promising (and ambitious) European band.

Originally published by AAA Music here

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~ by cliveparisrozario on June 29, 2011.

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