Reviews

Architecture in Helsinki

Nick Gunn

'Most punk bands break guitars, we break woodblocks.' And how!!

Architecture in Helsinki

Architecture in Helsinki

City: Sydney, Australia
Venue: Metro Theatre
Date: 2005-08-19

Architecture in Helsinki
"Most punk bands break guitars, we break woodblocks." This statement from Architecture in Helsinki semi-front man Cameron Bird, captures what it's like to see the group perform. They're like a demented high-school band that's wandered on stage after a day of gobbling acid and watching Sesame Street. Their trademark sound consists of deceptively child-like melodies -- often sung by multiple members -- married to staccato rhythms and held together by impeccable musicianship. Handclaps collide with a chorus of trumpets and the next minute those claps are overridden by a melodica. There's a casual tone to the show, established immediately as the eight members saunter onto the stage and take up residence behind a barrage of randomly assigned instruments. I say "random" because no member plays the same instrument throughout the entire show. One minute the barefoot guy in jeans and a t-shirt (speaking of casual) has a bass slung over his shoulder, the next he's bouncing up and down bashing at the keyboards and singing backups. The band pulls no punches, and after three songs we've already been treated to both of the band's best songs. The crowd eats up "The Owls Go" and "It'5!" while the tunes' early appearance have me wondering what they have left for the rest of the gig. I should have more faith. The nature of the band's music is such that even songs you've never heard before seem infectious and familiar. I can only assume that more than a few copies of Fingers Crossed and In Case We Die will shift as a result of the melodies lingering in our collective mind after the show. The band indulges in a few well-selected covers, starting with the Bar-Kays "Soul Finger", a song with a crazily swinging funk that suits this band. Memories of teenage years are stirred by their version of the Zit Remedy's "Everybody Wants Something", and it's like the early '90s all over again. Degrassi Junior High is just one of those weird universals; I have yet to meet someone who lived through that era who wasn't a fan of the show to some degree or another. "You can't have this wig, I bought it from Elton John," Bird retorts to some smart-ass in the crowd who questions his 'do. His self-deprecating humour is indicative of the band's musical philosophy. There is a sense of fun and irony, but not so much that it detracts from the emotional pull of the tunes. Amidst the quirky instrumentation and kiddie sing-along vocals, there is a core of emotion and a genuine belief in the quality of the material. And it's a belief that is well and truly earned.
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

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.

Books

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.

Music

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.

Music

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.

Music

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.

Books

'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.

Music

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.

Music

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.

Music

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.

Music

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.

Music

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.

Music

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.

Music

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.

Music

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.

Music

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.

Film

'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.

Music

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.

Books

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.

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

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