If the actual architecture in Helsinki looks anything like the band Architecture in Helsinki sounds, I’d imagine there’s no shortage of buzzing neon murals, electric paintings of bouncing rabbits and other fuzzy who’s-its in sparkly, eye-popping phosphorescence. The buildings would all be built to sway in the steady Finnish breeze, giving the effect of a dancing skyline every afternoon, and every day at 5 p.m. they’d turn off all the lights except those needed to create an office window smile, a big toothy grin beaming down to the bubble-blowing Finns below.
The band’s newest effort, Moment Bends, was four years in the making. It has the same jubilant, glee-to-the-gills soul as their previous output, but the additional studio time adds a poppy polish and easy accessibility present only in moments on their other records. The press release describes it as “equal parts Italia ‘82, California ‘79 and Melbourne 2011.” I have no idea what any of that means, but from track one to track 12, it feels inspired by everyone’s favorite musical era when they’re drunk or karaoke-ing: the ‘80s. The album opens with “Escapee,” all bouncy synth and sunny vocals, an apt title for an escapist piece of sugary pop that takes you far away from any of the day’s ho-hum drudgery. From there it goes right into “Contact High,” summer’s first mix-tape must. It doesn’t just make you high, the major synth, machine beats and harmonious vocals leaving your head buzzy and light, but like any addictive substance, demands another try, and another and another until you put it on repeat. It’s as good a one-two punch as any indie-pop record has opened with, and it’s an apex that’s never quite reached over the next ten songs. A few come close, a few miss the mark, but chances are you’ll enjoy the first 6:39 enough to want to explore the rest and forget the skip-worthy few.
Its ‘80s influence isn’t limited to the synths and drum machines, the smiles you can hear and Prince-like vocal peaks. The record plays like an old mixtape: a few songs you dig, a few you forget, and two or three you can’t stop playing, that you can’t keep from becoming part of a night the pictures can’t do justice, of a packed dance-floor, of a girl you didn’t kiss, of a midnight drive.