Architecture In Helsinki
Places Like This
Aussie septet Architecture In Helsinki are an odd bunch at the best of times. Nothing about them could ever be described as conventional, and while that must be welcomed amidst a sea of predictable trad-rock and recycled beat poets, their love of all things haphazard and kooky could also be their downfall in the long run.
Having relocated from the suburbs of Melbourne to the more eccentric confines of Brooklyn, AIH seem to have grasped a fistful of Americana, albeit a watered down version at that. Whereas 2005's 'In Case We Die' hinted at a visionary experimental pop band in the making, parts of 'Places Like This' appear to have suffered from the syndrome known as "trying too hard", and as a result this record sounds disjointed where its predecessor truly shone.
Sure enough, there's no mistaking Cameron Bird's talent for complex arrangements and conjuring up something a little out of the ordinary and on the flowing 'Nothing's Wrong', which sounds like 'Faith'-era George Michael dancing with The Cure to a soundtrack of B-52s and the Tom Tom Club it works a treat.
Likewise, 'Heart It Races', with its' Pixies go Calypso melody given the added supplement of Kellie Sutherland's Ronnie Spector-cut vocal and 'Debbie', which sounds like Talking Heads masturbating over a hard-to-find Prince bootleg show that their new surroundings haven't dampened either their enthusiasm or nous for penning a veritable tune.
Elsewhere though, things become less than comfortable as the patchy 'Hold Music' and 'Like It Or Not' both seem to be stuck on some arduous mission where the objective appears to be about cramming as many ideas into three minutes as possible and any semblance of direction is lost almost immediately.
Nevertheless, that doesn't necessarily mean you should give either 'Places Like This' or Architecture In Helsinki a wide berth, for now at least. Just approach with caution and don't expect too much from this record, as too many stereophonic rays of sun-coated saccharine can only be bad for your skin and teeth as well as your ears.