Aussies on parade

Don’t let their rather unusual moniker fool you: This band is not from Finland, nor are they anywhere near being architects for that matter.

Don’t let their rather unusual moniker fool you: This band is not from Finland, nor are they anywhere near being architects for that matter. Architecture in Helsinki is yet another Aussie powerhouse floating up to the U.S., bringing back a familiar retro-style boom that seems to be catching on amongst the lively bunch down under and especially with the younger generations of today.

Lately, as the contemporary trend has been, there is a common thread with most upcoming bands today that tends to lean towards the involvement of a glockenspiel and conventional synth-pop style renditions, ultimately forcing their listeners into a crazed dancing frenzy. Groups such as Belle & Sebastian, Shout Out Louds, Los Campesinos!, and more recently Cut Copy all seem to be digging up the past (as well as their old 80s records) by going through this conventional pop phase while trying to tastefully find their own artistic cup o’ tea.

Originally starting up in the late 1990s, Architecture in Helsinki is currently made up of Cameron Bird, Gus Franklin, Jamie Mildren, Sam Perry and Kellie Sutherland. The band has added and dropped members since they started however, but overall has remained musically stable since Bird, its founding member and creative engine began writing songs. Its first album, “Fingers Crossed,” was self released in 2003 and was supposedly heavily influenced by Bird’s visit to the ever-so-inspirational Portland on a holiday.

Its second and highly welcomed album, “In Case We Die,” which released on its own label Tailem Bend, gained enough merit to earn itself three nominations in the ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) Music Awards. The nominations were in the topics of Best Independent Release, Best Artwork and Best Adult Contemporary Release. Since the group’s wide success with “Fingers Crossed” in 2003, it has since released three more LP’s and has gained extreme international popularity with their music.

The group was put to the test and proved itself in the realm of touring in 2008, when it came to the U.S. for its first time as a group. Coasting on the experience of several national and international tours, the quintet has been on tour with groups such as Death Cab for Cutie, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and has opened for acts such as David Byrne, The Polyphonic Spree, Yo La Tengo and Belle & Sebastian.

These architectural Finnish wannabes are from the inner-city suburb of Fitzroy in Melbourne, Australia. It is not surprising that Fitzroy happens to be known throughout Australia as a prominent artsy cultural hub, which first blossomed in the 70s, giving birth to Australia’s first punk culture. Much like Portland, this town is blanketed with street art and is notorious for its live music scene. The city’s live music schtick has been appropriately coined the “Fitzroy Beat,” and harbors most of the country’s bohemian types. With that in mind, this re-vamped musical revolution of 80s style pop now has a specific epicenter to quite possibly take the blame.

However, what makes this five-piece semi-avant-garde group stand out from the other popular “new-age” groups has been riotously displayed in their newest album on Modular Records, “Moment Bends.” The band displays musical variety at its best on this record in two distinct schemes. One form that separates them is that the group actually produces rather impacting and well-written lyrics that stick with you, as your typical mainstream top 40 list songs would. Their second unique characteristic is that Architecture in Helsinki brings a new level of sound to further compliment its’ collection of pan-flutes, samplers, handclaps and synths.

By adding in everything from horns to a clarinet and even a recorder, they may catch you off guard when you first listen to them, leaving you unable to properly digest it. You may probably ask yourself: “Was that a concert section playing in between the drums and synth?”

The scariest part about their unique and diverse sound palette, which they exercise with ease, is that this band pulls it off without reservation.

Their best songs off of “Moment Bends” are “Contact High,” “Escapee” and “Desert Island.” Everything else on the record just doesn’t seem up to par. These three songs bring justice to this new musical fashion emerging from the faraway land. Besides the fact that they are truly catchy tunes, the group does a fantastic job of giving the listener enough familiarity to somewhat hide their influences and yet making these tracks hit very close to home. If you are at all curious to catch a glimpse of what the future of pop music holds, I recommend this album to you. ?