Review: All-female indie-pop quartet The Aces received plenty of praise for their 2018 debut album, "When My Heart Felt Volcanic", with the NME describing its contents as "13 back-to-back pop hits". While the band says they've developed their sound further on sophomore set "Under My Influence", musically it's similarly boisterous, mixing strong group vocals (and heartbreak-inspired lyrics) and chunky guitar riffs with beats and sounds variously inspired by modern R&B, synth-pop, reggae and dance music's more radio-friendly forms. The whole thing is pleasingly bold and ear-catching, with highlights including jangling hit single "Daydream", the similarly addictive "Kelly" and the sunny, triple-time swing of "Los Angeles".
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.