Review Summary: A forced, average output from the now six-piece band.
The architecture in the city of Helsinki draws from a few different eras, mostly neoclassical (which makes up the city centre) and Art Nouveau, a period of architecture in the romantic age. There was one architect in particular, Alvar Aalto, who is considered a love/hate architect. He built in a style called functionalism, where the purpose of the building is the primary influence on its design. Finlandia Hall, a concert hall in the congressional wing, is Aalto’s most famous work. Due to his style, the building is asymmetrical and puts the acoustics of the walls over their beauty or artisticness.
After learning a little about Aalto, Architecture in Helsinki’s name makes sense, one of the few things about them that actually does. The now six piece indie pop group from Australia named after a Finnish city known to yelp, scream, make sure their instruments and harmonies are slightly out of tune, and use any instrument that comes their way find many people in love, but other people absolutely hate it, much like Aalto’s architecture. For a sample, just look at Sputnik’s own page on In Case We Die. Here’s the thing- I liked what I heard of In Case We Die. The band’s quirkiness and fun-loving spirit stuck with me and I thoroughly enjoyed what I heard. Places Like This brings the band truly center stage, the follow up to their breakthrough album. To the band’s credit, the album is no In Case We Die; unfortunately, the previous was better.
At their cores, the songs on the album are simply written pop songs. Standard chord progressions with standard beats. The problem is more the musicianship of the band. “Like It or Not” demonstrates the issues that plague the album well. It begins with trumpet and childish “wah-wah” vocals. These oddities can be found all over the album, whether vocalized like the bassline in “Heart It Races” or instrumental chaos in “Nothing’s Wrong.” Furthermore, “Like It or Not” continues on the same chord progression for far too long. The rhythmic pulses and instrumentation varies too little to make the song interesting. The band tries to make their instrumentation so interesting that it covers up the oversimplification of their songwriting, but that fails to work.
Still, what prove to be the most annoying thing about the album are by far the vocals. All of the singers but the girl cannot really sing, but she hardly makes an appearance on the album except for “Hold Music” (fittingly the best song on the album). For the most part, the annoying male voices take prominence. For a short while, they maintain interest simply in their hilarity, with ridiculous falsettos, growls, yelps, and other strange vocal sounds. But that just does not maintain interest for an entire album. However, with most bad vocalists, it is easy to ignore if the music is good. Unfortunately, the recycled, cheesy beats and synth voices do not help.
It’s hard to criticize Architecture in Helsinki for this album because everything they do is obviously intentional. No one can be serious about those voices or the cheesy feel of the music. To their credit, the album is fun in small doses. Still, the musicianship is never great, sometimes dreadful. The “fun” of the album sometimes feels forced, trying to capitalize on the success of In Case We Die. Extreme fans of the band will still love it, but many will be swayed to the opposite side of the spectrum, throwing the band away as typical indie pop.
Agreed with the whole JJJ thing, but they do it for good reasons - i.e. to introduce new music to people and to gain bands some exposure, esp when they feature artists/albums of the week and so on. They do some good ones, too - I remember when i just sat down and lisnted to the entire Neon Bible like a week before it came out on JJJ. Helsinki are probably a product of this. I've only heard the singles, but they didn't impress me too much.
I've got to disagree here, I think this is a very good release. It's got some weak songs scattered around, but the likes of Hold Music, Heart it Races and Debbie are enough to justify the weaker moments.
Then again, I've always had a soft spot for AiH and mega-twee-indie-pop in general. Also, I saw these songs live before I heard the album and they were so awesome live...it kinda made me look at this album in a different way, it's so danceable! So yeah, up there with In Case We Die for me.
Unfortunately, this review and most of its comments are ill-informed, unjustified and overflowing with cliches.
I'm not one to criticize the critics, but I'm going to offer my opinion to help you grow as not only a writer, but a music fan.
The arguments presented lack development and credibility. Its presumptuous to include in, let alone begin, the review with an assumed reasoning behind the band's name; especially when the rest of the article proves that you know little about their history. This becomes obvious when you fail to give the artists the respect of addressing them by name before you criticize their vocals.
Even if you assume you know enough about a band to review their work, its still a good idea to do some research. I'm not sure how anyone could feel comfortable putting their opinion out there without doing minimal background work. It seems like an embarrassment that could have been easily avoided.
There are many examples of flaws in your writing, but I'll just give you one. The sentence, "The now six piece indie pop group from Australia named after a Finnish city known to yelp, scream, make sure their instruments and harmonies are slightly out of tune, and use any instrument that comes their way find many people in love, but other people absolutely hate it, much like Aalto’s architecture," is not only a confusing run-on, but says that the Finnish city is known to yelp, scream, etc. While personification sometimes has its place, it seems you need to brush-up on your punctuation and proofing.
As far as AIH is concerned, they're not for everyone -- just like most artists and bands. But before making your judgement, listen to the whole album. If that doesn't do it, try "Fingers Crossed" which has a much lighter and less chaotic sound. And if that still doesn't do it, check out Gus Frankiln's newest side-project, "The Universe." The member's of AIH have a rich musical history greater than what I have listed. Dig around a little and you may find a new favorite.
If you want to write more credible reviews, soak up everything. Don't lecture readers with a vapid account of an important history of architecture, keep your writing in one tense and never, ever use the words "typical indie pop."
While personification sometimes has its place, it seems you need to brush-up on your punctuation and proofing.
Telling him he forgot to add the word "is" to a sentence would be a lot more helpful than personally targeting and making a bigger deal of his grammar just because you disagree with the review and call it "filled with clichés."
As far as AIH is concerned, they're not for everyone -- just like most artists and bands. But before making your judgement, listen to the whole album.
So let his review go. You're basically stating that, yes, this is subjective just like every other band-- until you actually listen to it! Don't tell him he needs to "soak everything up" when he's probably spent his fair share of time listening to the album, or what we should consider "typical indie pop," which is a pretty generous statement for this album.
I admit that it was a bit harsh, and I apologize for that. But it's a tough world for critics and no one should be discouraged by anything as petty as this. Take it as a personal challenge to prove everyone wrong by improving and writing more.
In response to the subjectivity of music, as mentioned in the previous comment: I never made any claim on whether or not I enjoy the new record. I simply offered other options that I think would be of interest to any music fan (the encouragement to listen to the whole album was meant for those who commented without listening to all of it). And when I used the words, "soak up everything," I meant everything. It was in reference to the world around us, not just what we review. I have full faith that he spent enough time with the album, and just want to encourage him to move forward. Quite honestly, I wouldn't have taken the time to write this if I thought it was a lost cause.
And that's why I said this review sucked. Just about everything he said is what I hated about this review but DEADLINES people!
But if you would have actually read the intro you would've understood this sentence.
"The now six piece indie pop group from Australia named after a Finnish city known to yelp, scream, make sure their instruments and harmonies are slightly out of tune, and use any instrument that comes their way find many people in love, but other people absolutely hate it, much like Aalto’s architecture,"
because I say earlier:
"There was one architect in particular, Alvar Aalto, who is considered a love/hate architect."This Message Edited On 08.24.07
man i was all down on this album when i first heard it. but then it kind of grew on me. it's not as good as past albums, and none of the songs stand out as much as stuff like 'the cemetery', but it's a pretty solid album.