It is getting increasingly difficult for bands to develop gracefully in this day and age of the internet. Come up with an album that sounds more or less the same as the previous one, and you will get slagged for not being adventurous. However, if you start meandering into unknown territory, critics will probably love it; but at the same time, you would have lost half your fan base. This is where Australian indie darlings, Architecture in Helsinki, are at with their fourth album, Moment Bends.
Recorded over a two year period in the band’s studio space at Buckingham Palace, songwriter and band leader Cameron Bird said he “wanted to create an album to get lost in”. Well, he was not far off. Since their formation in 2000, the band has had several line-up changes; and with each album release, a gradual maturity in sound. This latest project, however, finds them steeped in 80’s dance nostalgia, ranging from simple polyphonic melodies to over polished synthesiser pop. In fact, listening to the faux reggae keyboard intro of opening track, ‘Desert Island’, left me wondering if I was actually playing AiH and not The Baha Men.
With determination, it was a relief to find out that AiH has recorded an album that is better than the flat impression of opening salvo, ‘Desert Island’. ‘Contact High’ is a reminder of Prince (in a good way), while ‘Yr Go To’ bops along to a catchy Italian Euro beat. But once you start to get lost in the album, an embarrassing chorus or an irritating hook such as in ‘I Know Deep Down’ makes you want to hit that mute button.
Overall, a polished, but rather sanitised album which on hindsight could have been any 80’s inspired band. Having said that, Moment Bends is also AiH’s most commercial album to date, and if it does deliver the hits, all the better for them.
- Kieven Yim
Images from http://www.architectureinhelsinki.com/