Architecture in Helsinki: Moment Bends

On the other hand, they seem obsessed with escape -- with vacations, with dreams, with visions of UFOS. Often the lyrics are not as happy as the music sounds.

Architecture in Helsinki

Moment Bends

Label: Downtown
US Release Date: 2011-05-03
UK Release Date: 2011-04-06

The progression to Architecture in Helsinki’s fourth LP is one towards rhythm, away from the emphasis on melody characteristic of their first couple albums. Their vocals on Moment Bends are back to pop, a dial-back from the amped-up-Muppet vocals on 2007's Places Like This, but they also have R&B tendencies and occasional bursts of hyperactivity. Right from the first song, "Desert Island", the atmosphere is that of a vacation. The synths and pace scream of contentment. The desert island they're singing about, though, is one we create ourselves. If there's a theme to the LP, that's it: creating our own space. "We built our own utopia, baby," they sing. In a pseudo-Caribbean soft-pop way, the song also builds a groove. The sound of that utopia is a carefree one, a relaxed one, that also recalls images of every cheesy tourist ad or vacation promo you can think of.

The album is musically in the vein of future island funk/disco meeting '80s synth-pop. It sounds occasionally like Talking Heads or Orange Juice, but also like soft-drink ads, kids' TV show themes, and even Prince. "That Beep" (a single originally released in 2008) actually reminds me of an indie-pop version of a Black Eyed Peas song, with its "You've got that beep / That beep / That bo-bo-bo" chant. The opening to "Denial Style" actually reminds of New Kids on the Block. In spirit, they're channeling positivity and imagination, leaving some room for both nightclubbing and crying ("You put the ache in make-believe," one memorable lyric says). On the one hand, there are love songs (albeit with computers talking and, I imagine, lots of hairspray). "W.O.W" is a sweet love-letter, its title from the line "I caught you walking on water." "Sleep Talkin'" offers pillow-talk of a sort, but again, awfully sweet.

On the other hand, they seem obsessed with escape -- with vacations, with dreams, with visions of UFOS. Often the lyrics are not as happy as the music sounds. Even when the sound emulates paradise, the lyrics will be about dreams crashing down to earth, or about love not working as beautifully as you imagined. In these fanciful new wave songs are broken hearts aplenty, and people being let down. Music is about imagination and escape, but also getting in touch with reality. As they sing on "Yr Go To", "We were living in doubt / It took a sentimental melody to figure it out."

The album's last song, "B4 3D", strikes an especially dour note at first, but it also winds up encapsulating the subject matter of the rest of the album in some metaphysical way. In the song are planets, time, and foreign lands, but also a bittersweet love letter. Singer Cameron Bird's voice is lower, stranger, sadder, and makes him sound like a computer. He begins, "When I found out that each and every one of you were dead / Wrote a letter to the universe instead." The song paints Moment Bends' excessive voyages into dreamland as merely an attempt to dream away heartbreak. They're creating this bright cartoon world to block out the darker, sadder real one.





Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.


New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.


Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.


Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.


New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.


'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.


Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.


Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.


M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.


Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.


JARV IS... - "House Music All Night Long" (Singles Going Steady)

"House Music All Night Long" is a song our inner, self-isolated freaks can jive to. JARV IS... cleverly captures how dazed and confused some of us may feel over the current pandemic, trapped in our homes.


All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger's Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.


Folkie Eliza Gilkyson Turns Up the Heat on '2020'

Eliza Gilkyson aims to inspire the troops of resistance on her superb new album, 2020. The ten songs serve as a rallying cry for the long haul.


Human Impact Hit Home with a Seismic First Album From a Veteran Lineup

On their self-titled debut, Human Impact provide a soundtrack for this dislocated moment where both humanity and nature are crying out for relief.


Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.


'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of the GOP's Methods for Dividing and Conquering American Democracy

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.


Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.


Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

Collapse Expand Reviews
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.