Dave McGovern
staff writer
May 14, 2005
Amazon Disco:
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Architecture in Helsinki
in case we die

Architecture in Helsinki has created a unique brand of indie drama pop. The eight-piece Aussie group is like the class clown who has more personality than a schizophrenic. Their most recent venture, In Case We Die, has made waves here in the states. This album is not to be taken too seriously, but it shouldn’t be written off as a joke either because this group has melodies and vocal harmonies that would catch the attention of Brian Wilson.

In Case We Die’s first track, “Neverevereverdid”, starts off with a gong, alerting the listener that the down-under pop show is about to begin. Sci-fi funeral horns and haunting vocals show us to our front row seats. A simple cartoonish walking piano melody follows and accompanies the singer to center stage. The interlude is followed by the first lyrics of the album: “Just yesterday I was walking on the moon with your stalker/ and we talked about love and all the battles we’d won.” These lines set the surrealistic fun tone of In Case We Die. “Neverevereverdid” then has a horn section jump on board right before the tempo is kicked up and built into a frenzied hip-shaking froth with a falsetto cheering section. The opening track is a mere warm up for the rest of the album.

The album’s highlights include the angry and determined guitar and keyboard melody of “Frenchy, I’m Faking” as well as the last track “What’s in stone?” It is a synthy soup that says so long and thanks for the memories. From the murk a jungle bongo beat emerges dragging a kicking and screaming horn arrangement. The finale has a more complete sound then the rest of the album but is not the best of In Case We Die.

“It’5” is arguably the catchiest of the album. The track opening “stranger danger/danger stranger/when you gonna follow through?” will be stuck in your head for days as well as the hook “I coulda sworn that one and one make two but its FIVE!” You’ll want to pour the vocals on chocolate chip pancakes even though you know you’ll get a stomach ache later. Hand claps, bouncing guitar and bass kick will have you from seat to dance floor in the blink of an eye. The only fault of this song, as is the case with many of the songs, is that the ending is abrupt and a bit anticlimactic.

The album itself seems to end a bit abruptly, like a punch line you are not quite expecting, but this only adds to the enjoyment of In Case We Die. The quirky song titles and subject mater are reminiscent of the Unicorns. There is a hint of Tom Tom Club seen in the synth bass line, wood blocks and hand claps of “Do the Whirlwind”. “In Case We Die (Part 1-4)” feels like a more accessible Fiery Furnace song. Architecture in Helsinki has their own unique musical formula though. Sonically, the album goes from sparse to dense without warning. The delightful tempo changes of Architecture in Helsinki can be best summed up only as ADD pop. Although silly in many ways, In Case We Die is by no means a guilty pleasure, but rather fun in its most pure aural form.

Release date: April 12, 2005
Label: Bar None
Rating: 7.0 / 10

[RMR]