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Princess Century
s u r r e n d e r Amanda Farah , September 28th, 2021 05:58

Maya Postepski of Austra and TR/ST goes full pop on her new Princess Century album, finds Amanda Farah

Maya Postepski hasn’t produced much as a solo artist, but she’s a musician who keeps busy. It’s taken six years for her to release s u r r e n d e r, her second full length as Princess Century, but in that time the former Austra and TR/ST drummer and synth player released and contributed to several albums with her previous bands.

It can’t be said for certain that this activity has affected the direction of s u r r e n d e r, but whether or not she meant to, Princess Century has stepped further away from being an electronic artist and towards being an off-kiter synth pop artist. Whereas her debut, Progress, was all looping instrumentals, s u r r e n d e r uses repetition more as a hook than a point of experimentation, whether it’s beats or melodies or lyrics that repeat.

s u r r e n d e r also marks the first time Postepski has featured her own vocals in her solo work, and it’s her vocals that bring this pop persuasion and, subsequently, make it a more approachable electronica album. This pop inflection serves as a distinct line in the sand – if one did not already exist – between Princess Century and Austra or TR/ST. In her current incarnation, Postepski takes on a lighter, more focused tone, without the moodiness (Austra) or goth references (TR/ST) of her previous projects.

In fact, the energy she channels crosses very specific moods: ‘Stupid Things’ would feature in a romantic moment for a newly-paired-up couple in a quirky Netflix series. It perfectly balances its electronic bounciness with an overall softness that hints at emotional vulnerability. But then, in direct reference to Postepski’s work as a DJ, other tracks are ready for the dance floor at the club with the indie night: ‘Touch Yourself’ builds on a palette of programmed drums and high hat before breaking in to the high energy of the title being repeated in sliced up syllables that distort the words.

Postepski built her reputation as a drummer, and it’s easy to see the thread between that foundation and the way she builds short rhythmic loops upon each other (the influence of her DJing can again be felt here). The physical drums on the album offer a crackling firmness against the synths across the tracks, as well as a notably different texture to the rubber band electronic beats that twang into each other.

But even with this foray into pop songs, Princess Century hasn’t completely dispensed with the instrumentals of her debut. ‘Fantasy Channel’ and ‘Wanting You’ in particular follow an Eno-via-Low approach to patterns, compounding on each other in trickling layers. Repetition can drive you mad or it can creep in unnoticed, lulling you into a place of comfort. Postepski got the sequencing right on s u r r e n d e r, so there’s never too much of a good thing.