After 14 years together, the band still seem like they were cobbled together at a house party
If Architecture in Helsinki's career goal has been to avoid following a prescriptive formula, it should be feeling fairly content. After all, this is a band that takes to stage in bright pink while hailing from Fitzroy in Melbourne – possibly the most fluoro-adverse suburb on mainland Australia.
The group (let’s go with AIH) can broadly be categorised as bubblegumindie pop, but the sheer number of instruments they deploy can result in some unexpected genre diversions.
A mid-set introduction of brass and a drop in tempo appeared to be a fumbled attempt at Specials-style ska. AIH were on safer territory when quickening the pace again for a crowd-pleasing rendition of Heart it Races.
Filling in the gaps is a diverting collection of tunes based around repeated single syllables that, one imagines, could be the output of an after-hours Wiggles. But while the childlike quality of AIH means its music lacks nuance, it isn’t without a sizeable dollop of charm.
Keyboardist Cameron Bird is an enigmatic figure, with his quiff and brightly coloured jacket evoking both Gene Vincent and Suggs. Kellie Sutherland and the generously-bearded Jamie Mildren provide sterling support and the crowd’s warmth makes it feel as if they are amongst friends.
AIH’s strongest songs, Hold Music and Contact High, are belted out with gusto, although they serve to highlight the regret that such decent pop isn’t replicated elsewhere within the rather aimless filler that swamps it.
A fifth album is due next year, hopefully to a better reception than 2011’sMoment Bends. A new track, Dream a Little Crazy, is given an airing and is enthusiastically lapped up. Following an impromptu audience poll for the encore song, the band decamps to mingle with its fans and play Dream a Little Crazy again, this time acoustically.
AIH is entering its fourteenth year but still has the feel of a group of people cobbled together at a house party. The song writing may suffer as a result, but the upbeat mood is infectious and taunts cynics to drop their guard. It’s hard to resist.