‘Places like this’ by Architecture in Helsinki (2007)

I don’t write much about music, because I don’t really know how to put the words together. Many reviews I read assume that the reader is familiar with the music itself, which isn’t necessary what I expect from a review.

I first became a fan of Architecture in Helsinki after being gifted with their debut album, ‘Fingers crossed’, shortly before seeing them live. This must have been 2003, I think. Until recently, their band had nine musicians who all played different instruments to one degree or another. Their first gig I saw in Adelaide had them crammed onto a tiny stage in the Jade Monkey with many more instruments than band members and having hardly space to move let alone swap instruments halfway through songs. They are certainly an eclectic lot. I really don’t know how to describe their music. Lots of energy and lots of instruments almost chaotically thrown together, with vocals primarily provided (often in falsetto) by their lead Cameron and taken over (and stolen) by partner-in-crime Kelly.

Their first album, which was a sweet, smoothly-produced and catchy number, and some time later, their second album ‘In case we die’ was a much bolder expression of their energetic and unusual sound, I guess. That album was less one that you could stick on as background music but captured better who they were as a band.

Around the same time, they toured Europe and America and I’m guessing become a lot more popular. (Well, Sven-S. Porst likes them at least. That’s my one and only data point for popularity outside Australia!) Since then, they lost two of their musicians who had more of a classical instrument bent, and just released a third album, ‘Places like this’. And it’s my favourite album so far. At a touch over 30 minutes I would like it to be a song or two longer. It continues the trend started in ‘In case we die’ of louder, punchier sounds. Cameron is crooning less falsetto and living it up a bit more. The songs are more catchy, the enthusiasm more unbridled, and the album more consistent. With a solid touring history now they’re much more guitar-based in concert and they’ve never been better.

I love you, Architecture in Helsinki.