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Song You Need to Know: Austen, ‘North South East West’

“North South East West” is a blissful alt-pop anthem from the Brisbane artist, and one of her most accomplished tracks to date.

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Following on from a pair of singles released in 2020, Brisbane’s Austen is back with a veritable alt-pop anthem, sharing the infectious “North South East West” ahead of its official release this week.

Having first arrived on the scene just a few years ago, it took almost no time at all for Austen to make a name for herself, with tracks like 2018’s “Too High to Cry” helping her to become one of triple j Unearthed’s most-played artists for the year, and thus exposing her music to a massive audience.

After a couple of years of singles and EPs, 2020 brought with it a drought of live shows, allowing Austen to focus on her craft a little deeper than previously planned. Now, 2021 has brought with it her first new song since August, with “North South East West” serving as what might be Austen’s most accomplished track to date.

Equal parts luscious and expansive, “North South East West” combines the alt-pop sheen of names such as Clairo with the precise, immense production style of Mark Ronson, albeit with a unique sound which can be described only as pure Austen. Sleek and summery with a smooth, moving vocal, the track features Evan Klar and Hailey Collier as co-writers, while Klar teams up with Jono Ma on production.

“‘North South East West’ is about that easy type of love where it feels like you’re living in a hazy dream, exploring new territory and not having to force anything – a love letter to the honeymoon period,” Austen explains. “I’d written a lot of songs about toxic love and I wanted this one to be the polar opposite…it’s a love song to simple, flirty love.”

Mesmerising and powerful, it’s a masterful showcase of blissful alt-pop, and a perfect calling card for one of the country’s most exciting and promising artists.

With “North South East West” officially released this week and serving as the start of a new era for the artist, Austen explains that the rest of 2021 is set to be a year of new growth and reactivation following a period of time spent on pause.

“This year I’m really excited to expand my show to have a live band, after touring for the past couple of years with a smaller setup,” she explains. “After so long with no gigs because of Covid, it’s inspired me to go all out and make it a hectic experience.”

Austen’s “North South East West” is out this week via Tank Top Records.