Australian indie-pop outfit Architecture in Helsinki are known for their quirky, upbeat music, best exhibited in 2005’s In Case We Die, but Places Like This is odd even by their standards. This is pop music with attention deficit disorder. Most songs are unable to follow an established song structure for more than 30 seconds; every time it feels like the perfect spot for a chorus, the music takes a left turn into a slow, spacey bridge or an instrumental keyboard interlude that sounds like something from a video game. But even if there’s nothing here as immediately giddy and joyous as In Case We Die‘s “It’s 5!” or “Wishbone,” two of the best examples of pure pop exuberance of this decade, Places Like This is still gushing with the manic energy of its predecessor. Since In Case We Die, the eight-member troupe has been reduced to six, losing two of its three female members, but the difference is barely noticeable since remaining member Kellie Sutherland has always been the group’s predominant female voice. The interplay between her childlike vocals and Cameron Bird’s is one of the strongest elements of several songs, notably “Nothing’s Wrong” and “Hold Music.” From the synthesized beats that drive “Same Old Innocence” to the tropical mesh of bongos, steel drums, and tribal chants of “Heart it Races” and the punchy brass of “Debbie,” Architecture’s instrumentation is more varied than ever before. Though they could’ve made another fine record by sticking to the simpler approach of their previous albums, it’s refreshing to see a band take a more ambitious route, and do it well.
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