I must say that my initial impressions of Architecture In Helsinki's latest album were less than favourable. In fact they were awful. But having learnt my lesson from the lead single, Heart It Races, I decided to stick at and see if things improved. After about the tenth listen, things were certainly getting better, but I still wasn't loving it. It was crazy. It was energetic. But it lacked that sense of pure joy that originally brought me to them. Why had they changed? Were they now appealing to a crowd far cooler than I could ever hope to be? These were the thoughts going through my mind as I wallowed in my disappointment. But then I realised that I really didn't know Architecture In Helsinki at all. My listening experience with them had been patchy at best. And so I decided to go back and really get to know them. The result was a number of interesting conclusions. Firstly, Places Like This is, unlike my previous convictions, a perfectly natural progression of their sound. Secondly, I had been missing out on some excellent music from their earlier days. And finally, I am a complete idiot for not going see them at bargain prices, not once, but twice in the last few months.
In Case We Die (2005)
I'll start here because until recently, it was solely responsible for my image of Architecture In Helsinki. Just like I thought I knew them, I thought I knew this album. In reality, I'd mostly listened to it selectively, picking my favourites and putting them in mixes while the others went unnoticed. Going back and listening to it in full, I've really come to appreciate it as a whole piece, even enjoying the moments that I previously considered nothing more than filler.
I dismissed this album far too quickly. Once I realised all my favourites were on their next album, I pushed it aside, even dropping it from my mp3 player. I now realise what a mistake that was. This is Architecture at their most pure. When I listen to it, I hear a bunch of musicians excited about making noise. It's an infectious feeling that makes you smile with every quirky little sound they try out.
I'd be lying if I said this album had won me over. I would happily trade this rawer, ‘tribal’ (for lack of better word) sound and rougher vocals for the whispery innocence of before. They've streamlined their line-up, cut out the frilly bits and produced a far more accessible album. For this I'm not bitter. It's opened their colourful sound up to a whole audience and that's great. I do enjoy quite a bit of it, I think I'll always prefer their earlier music.