Architecture in Helsinki
In Case We Die
2005
A-



oh, the controversy continues. Here’s another album of “adventurous” indie rock a la the Fiery Furnaces’ Blueberry Boat. Shorter songs on this one, though, so maybe people won’t hate it as much. Actually, you’d imagine that there wouldn’t be much controversy to speak of, given that this Australian eight-piece group will probably continue to be relegated to the twee-pop ghetto. Why are they there, though, and the Fiery Furnaces are not? (Lucky for the latter that they didn’t release Blueberry Boat first, I guess.)

Like Blueberry Boat, this is a triumphant album of good bits. The fact that the songs aren’t fleshed out into standard pop song structures might mean that you won’t be able to play them when you DJ at a club, but you can just dance to some of the bits at home if you like. (There’s nothing keeping people from dancing for a minute and a half rather than three and a half minutes.) “Neverevereverdid” and “It’5” both have some cool, spazzed out twee pop grooves, pleasingly thick with this large ensemble’s instrumental counterpoint (including piano and some cool guitar and synth tones). “Do the Whirlwind” has a nice new wave groove. (When the women sing their bit, it sounds like Human League, but when the guy sings, it starts to sound like Wham or something!)

New wave revivalism actually only crops up here and there on the album. “Maybe You Can Owe Me” is a really nice track with a sort of soft ‘80s U.K. new wave sound. On the whole, though, the album is a real stylistic smorgasbord, and the listener is not always certain from whence some of these styles cometh. Generally speaking, the bits may not be as grand as some of the bits on Blueberry Boat but they’re actually a little bit more fun. Sometimes, the women do these vocal parts where they shout in tandem. On “Neverevereverdid,” it’s reminiscent of Kleenex, but when they do it again on “It’5,” the song is such over the top bubblegum that it sounds more like a seventies TV commercial jingle for some toy or a breakfast cereal.

The group’s press sheet likens “Wishbone” to songs from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and that actually sounds about right. (I guess it’s one of Janet’s songs?) “Frenchy, I’m Faking” is another good, eccentric musical-like tune. (Hey, wait; there was a “Frenchy” character in Grease!)

We probably need a name for this genre. It’s not really psychedelic music, much like Brian Wilson’s Smile is not really psychedelic music. I’d suggest “twee prog.” Sure hope that the next Polyphonic Spree album will be an “adventurous” twee-prog journey! (Actually, what Polyphonic Spree ought to do next is to up the ante on Architecture in Helsinki with a full-on, double disc twee-prog musical!)


Reviewed by: Tim Ellison
Reviewed on: 2005-04-14
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