Architecture In Helsinki
Architecture in Helsinki is a soaring Australian octet that makes complexly tiered, multi-instrumented pop that defies categorization or definition. AIH’s debut, Fingers Crossed, offers 14 polished, fresh and perky slices of perfect pop music. Their songs are a m•lange of bedroom electronica, prog rock, garden pop and soundtrack orchestrations.
Their sense of timing and melody is impeccable. AIH are musical craftsmen who build songs from the tattered remnants of the strangest places and make them completely coherent and alive. Fingers Crossed is ideal music for anyone looking for a break from the rain, the pain or just a new lease on life. It is indeed an uplifting record made by a band with unlimited potential.
From start to finish, the glucose-fueled Fingers Crossed creates a sonic dreamlike state, enveloped in textured layers of amiable dissonance. You know you are onto something when you first hear the opening track, the spunky, minute-long effervescence of “One Heavy February” — you know you have arrived in paradise. It is everything an opening track should be: catchy, fast and tight, without being too disruptive. The pleasantly calm “Souvenirs” is next. It has this amazing bit with breakout synthesizers that is just awesome. It is here where the album gets going. The clicky “Imaginary Ordinary,” the Bacharach-y “Scissor Paper Rock” and the jangly “To And Fro” are the best tracks on the album. Each song is frontloaded with terrific horns, sultry strings and sugary vocals that mix a calming atmosphere of pomp and circumstance with the aesthetics of DIY keyboards and electronics. “Spring 2008” is wonderful. It begins with a delicate, music box-like introduction that opens up and expands into a snappy chorus. “The Owls Go” has the melody of Belle & Sebastian fused with the temperament of Pet Sounds.
The latter half of Fingers Crossed is just as good, although somewhat more melancholy and subtle. A more subdued sounding AIH emerges, creating “rainy day music” that is tranquil and serene. From the horn laden ’60’s frolic of “Fumble,” to the needling bliss of “Kindling” and the gracefully elegant “Where You’ve Been Hiding,” it is obvious that this is a band that really fits together.
Like Wright, Sullivan or Hadid, Architecture In Helsinki likes to build things. The songs they construct are a tightly packed and texturally solid blending of styles and instruments that creates harmonies, melodies and orchestrations that shimmer and glow. By culling their influences and combining genres, AIH has made a record that is seamless and interesting. Despite creating their own, unique sound, AIH should appeal to anyone who digs the vastness of the Flaming Lips, the off-kilterness of Grandaddy, the loungetronics of Stereolab and the smooth coyness of Belle & Sebastian. Fingers Crossed is one of the best albums of the year. Highly recommended.