Architecture in Helsinki
Places Like This
With their third full-length album, Architecture in Helsinki continue to defy living up to their own name with an offering that's anything but cold and modernist. Running along the lines of their previous output, Places Like This is a sprawling post-modernist mix that juxtaposes the digital with the analogue, and cold waves of synthesisers with, well, steel pans and a 'two-note apocalyptic swamp axe' - and all this from a band hailing from suburban Melbourne.
Running at just 31 minutes, Places Like This is cramped with a wealth of musical ideas that morphs incessantly into something else as the listener moves along the 10 numbers, racing past Talking Heads funk and Devo's digital daftness with the deftness of a Rem Koolhaas at the drawing board.
And that's if the sound's not changing within each track itself: Lazy (Lazy), for example, begins as loose funk, transforms in the middle into a stomping polyphonic march, and then returns to its starting point, but with the sonic lunacy at the start multiplied.
Architecture in Helsinki's sound - just like all artistic output that refuses to pin down its influences consistently to a unitary source, and declines to emerge as a serious force - would again remain anathema to musical puritans. But then again, it's not only purists who could find faults with Places Like This: even enthusiasts would probably render the album as overloading itself.
Then again, the short, sharp bursts of manic energy that Places Like This offered is what makes Architecture in Helsinki a standout among other musical collectives in recent years, gaining them an upper hand over equally shambolic (and eccentrically monikered) art-pop groups such as Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and I'm From Barcelona. The mind boggles how much longer such musical clutter can endure - so enjoy it while it lasts.