Review: You may already know 22-year old Norwegian pop singer Aurora Aksnes for her rendition of Oasis' "Half the World Away" for a John Lewis Christmas advert in 2015, but if not, she's the biggest thing since Robyn. This latest record, following A Different Kind Of Human (Step 1) from last year, presents a third album to date and one that forms the second part of last year's surprise release. Fast-paced, hopeful, dancey and nordically folkal music, (Step 2) sees Aurora deliver something more experimental than before with its themes said to focus on ecological crisis and societal concepts of individualism. Syncopated basslines, staccato vocals and criss-crossing rhythms hit all the right spots in "Apple Tree" while our other pick "In Bottles" combines '90s pop sensationalism with breakbeats made to fit house tempos. Tip!
Review: Katie Stelmanis, the spectrally-voiced and ferociously-talented figure behind maverick electro-pop outfit Austra, set herself the not inconsiderable target of setting out 'a commitment to replace the approaching dystopia' with this third album, yet against all odds she's done a sterling job of marrying the icy binary chill of technology with a very human frailty to emerge with a defiant and emotionally affecting statement of intent. Indelible melody and Stelmanis' extraordinary tones may dominate, yet the sonic landscapes here - equally bracing and beatific - have the rare effect of making the listener hopeful for what 2017 has in store.