Architecture in Helsinki: In Case We Die

Architecture in Helsinki
In Case We Die
(Bar None)

In Case We Die is the second album from Australian indie-pop octet Architecture in Helsinki.

Yes, I said octet. The band consists of eight musicians and about 1,2873 musical instruments and sounds, including (but not limited to) horns, shouting, bird noises, childlike male and female vocals, electronic beeps, wailing and a wide variety of percussion instruments, one of which can only be identified as “that bumpy wooden fish thing” that you played in music class in fourth grade.

There are three words to accurately describe this record: hipster dance party. You know what I’m talking about. A bunch of pasty people with comb-overs and wacky thrift store gear get together, get drunk and flail wildly to Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.”

If you prefer a more musical description, Architecture in Helsinki might be compared to Chicago-based Head of Femur, Tilly and the Wall, the Arcade Fire or possibly even former Bar-None label-mates Of Montreal. In Case We Die opens with eerie chimes and vocals on “Neverevereverdid,” but a pop melody soon kicks in and sets the standard for the rest of the record. The next track, “It’5!” is catchy but also mildly irritating, mostly because of the shouting.

And that’s exactly the quandary surrounding Architecture in Helsinki. Like a hipster dance party, this is fun stuff. But it’s also really kind of annoying when you stop and think about it. “Maybe You Can Owe Me,” “Frenchy, I’m Faking,” and “Do the Whirlwind” are enjoyable because they’re poppy, but the record sometimes steps over the line into sugary-sweet.

Welcome to art school, people. I’m not necessarily saying that’s a bad thing, but before you listen to this record, asks yourself these three questions:

1. Do you enjoy songs laden with hand-claps?
2. Are you currently wearing any articles of clothing that are hot pink and/or neon green?
3. Are you kind of a spazz?

If you answered “yes” to any or all of the above, then Architecture in Helsinki might be for you. On the other hand, if the mere thought of hipsters busting out Napoleon Dynamite dance moves at a kegger makes you nauseous, In Case We Die may, in fact, be hazardous to your health.
~ Liz Mozzocco