Combining electro pop, experimental kitsch and indie twee into a decidedly palatable multi-layered sunny-morning pop marching band, Architecture in Helsinki is Australia’s greatest (and only) eight-member art-pop collective. Fingers Crossed, the band’s debut, is a rather compelling argument, full of playful synths, sing-along melodies and a small cache of brass instruments. Obviously, much of the fun is in Architecture’s constantly shifting, vaguely psychedelic arrangements that piece together pop conventions in unusual and surprisingly accessible ways. Fluttering, swinging, and almost always light-hearted, the intricate yet slightly rough-around-the-edges aesthetic deconstructs pop in the most unpretentious ways. Its melodies are truncated for effect, extra choruses and trumpet melodies sweep in out of nowhere, and pop references—from Phil Spector to Burt Bacharach—are dropped with expert precision.
The contrast between the more aggressively electronic elements and their pairing with acoustic instruments provides an interesting subplot, giving the band an immediately recognizable textural identity. Architecture’s unconventional, outside-the-box approach generally works better as a concept than when broken into its constituent parts, as the seamless flow and constantly shifting sonic milieu is lost outside of the context of the whole. With eight members, it’s generally surprising the group avoids clutter as much as it does. And the existing clutter only puts a few more human wrinkles in the mix of an album that enters you like a breath of spring air.