Photo: Renata Raksha

Austra – “I Love You More Than You Love Yourself” (Singles Going Steady)

An understated, gleaming synthpop gem that reveals Austra at their most graceful.

Andrew Paschal: An understated, gleaming synthpop gem that reveals Austra at their most graceful. Katie Stelmanis delivers lines like, “There is nothing in your soul tonight / I only see darkness” in a sober, plaintive, utterly empathic tone, yet this song is also pure light. Written about loving somebody with depression, the accompanying video gives an honest yet compassionate treatment of astronaut Lisa Nowak’s story, rewriting exploitative and pathologizing narratives regarding her mental illness. Compared to other tracks on the band’s latest album, Future Politics, “I Love You More…” provides a subtler manifesto, a vision of progressivism as real compassion. Among the warmest tracks in the band’s catalog thus far. [9/10]

Paul Carr: This is what Austra do best. The elegant, operatic vocals and the heartbreakingly, melancholic words. The almost spiritual, euphoric synths that supplant the yawning, low-end keyboards that form the foundations of the song. The sudden shift that comes halfway in as the music slumps to allow a choral, elegiac break. The way the song takes flight again, with new found vigor. The contrast of emotions as the song fills you with hope but breaks your heart. A band of contrast. A song to captivate. [8/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: Paying tribute to oft-mocked astronaut Lisa Nowak, infamous for an attempted kidnapping of her ex-boyfriend’s girlfriend, Austra puts together a song full of pathos and a video that evokes empathy even for such a strange case. Katie Stelmanis has the perfect voice for it, robust and clear, with the tension and emotional range of a well-tuned Stradivarius, and the quick rhythms beneath her drive her lovelorn pleas forward. She brings shivers with each ringing note, transforming a catchy electropop song into a universally understood story of doomed love. [7/10]

Chris Ingalls: A smooth, creamy slab of dream pop that seems to defy categorization and era. “I Love You More Than You Love Yourself” could easily have been eking out of more synth-heavy college radio stations in the mid-’80s, but it has enough modernity to place it squarely in the present. The vocals soar about the artificial landscape, making for a soothing yet somewhat transcendent listening experience. [8/10]

Steve Horowitz: A very ambitious piece of music that alternates between pop and electronic in intelligent and insightful ways. The breathy, direct vocal declaration of love powerfully sets the song’s tone, which is gorgeous, if disturbing. The compassionate friend may end up as deranged as the person one cares about and thus create a cycle of despair. Sure, empathy is important. We should all help one another when we can. The bleaker elements of the music suggest that we can care too much, but Austra would rather side with those who love to excess more than not enough. [7/10]

Austra’s Future Politics is out now via Domino Records.

SCORE: 7.80