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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Architecture in Helsinki
Places Like This
Polyvinyl

Rating: 8.9/10 ?


August 3, 2007
Call the Australian collective with the tongue-tying name Architecture in Helsinki many things, just don't call them bland. Whether to describe their vibrant style as gaudy, juvenile or plainly radiant can sometimes be a tough choice. Yet one thing is certain on their newest release, Places Like This: the band has fashioned one of the freshest albums of the year. The thirty minute romp, with no song breaking the four minute mark, so perfectly reflects their unique, evolving character; it is purely sui generis, or dare I say, twee generis.

On their previous two releases, Fingers Crossed and In Case We Die, AiH flirted with fluff, but managed keep the saccharin at a safe distance. They funneled their exuberance into songs that were chock-full of creative arrangements, toy sounds, retro beats and starry-eyed vocals - a helium version of the New York party icons The Rapture. That the two bands should bump into each other is at least plausible, as AiH is currently spread out well past their Melbourne hometown, with primary songwriter/vocalist Cameron Bird now calling Brooklyn's hip sanctuary Williamsburg home.

The influence of Bird's new 'hood is palpable on Places Like This, right from the bristly opening notes. With gnarling vocals and a drumbeat pulled right from Def Leppard, "Red Turned White" leaves no doubt that the Architects have plans for a new design this time around. The next track, "Heart It Races," hands it over on a silver platter. Barber-shop-quartet bass vocals, steel drums, and yelps from female singer Kellie Sutherland deftly co-exist, the results as sharp as that of Sweden's The Knife. "Hold Music" channels the disco sexuality of early Madonna, with Sutherland's thirsty refrain of "Give it to me baby/ give it to me." For maximum satisfaction, simply add bountiful 80's synthesizers, Bird's falsetto screams, and a horn riff that could be from the Sex Machine himself (RIP).

The highlights of this already addictive listen are the two polar opposite middle tracks, "Underwater" and "Like It Or Not." The former barely gets going, as subtle harmonies shimmer under layers or textured percussion and sound effects. The reserved song, which actually sounds underwater, then explodes into the Calypso rhythms and brass of "Like It Or Not" with Bird howling like a hyped-up Isaac Brock, "Let me tell you about New York when it's hoooooot." The "wha wha wha wha" exhortations of the band so neatly capture their contagious energy, one finds themselves needing more of the juice. The Aussie's happily oblige on the ridiculously colorful "Debbie," which traverses genres and eras so adroitly, it could be standard issue on the dancefloors of 50s diners, 70s discos, and 90s raves.

Places Like This is right up there with the year's best madcap adventures into dance and rock. Like Beck's throwback Midnite Vultures, Places is sly, wildly creative, and as refreshing as an open fire hydrant on a hot summer day in Bird's inspiring new community. And like that melting-pot neighborhood, the album jumbles so many sonic styles, it's like a walk down his street on a Saturday night, beats blasting from its boombox heart. Shedding their skin like an Outback snake, Architecture in Helsinki have slithered into a new-fangled sound; it's sublime, with oodles of bite to boot.

Reviewed by Ari Shapiro
A staff writer for LAS, Ari Shapiro mixes up pretty unique smoothies at XOOM in hot Tucson.

See other reviews by Ari Shapiro

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