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Architecture in Helsinki - Places Like This

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Artist: Architecture in Helsinki

Album: Places Like This

Label: Polyvinyl

Review date: Aug. 21, 2007

“Red Turns White,” the opening song on Architecture in Helsinki’s latest offering, Places Like This, kicks off with a cowbell-heavy beat straight from Def Leppard’s “Rock of Ages.” The song, and album, only gets worse from there.

Indie-pop acts of deconstruction are sometimes fun, but this disc is anything but. All the blips, bleeps, farts and squawks in the world can’t save AIH’s songs from terminal idiocy. The Australian seven-piece goes for cute overload, but winds up with one of the most annoying releases I’ve heard in some time.

The supremely grating “Heart it Races” features Casiotone kettledrums and “ahhhhh-ahhh” backing vocals jacked from T-Rex’s “Planet Queen.” For shame. “Hold Music,” a clunky electro jam with vocals that sound like a hipster Fred Schneider getting probed with a Keytar, immediately follows.

Of Montreal know how to throw a righteously spoogy dance party. AIH may have their pelvic thrusts down, but they lack soul and, most importantly, songs. I listened to Places literally dozens of times, hoping that my indie-tronic aversions would dissolve, allowing me to find the prize inside their musical candy ring. Never happened. Actually, the more I listened, the more pissed off I got. I haven’t had a negative reaction this visceral in years. I guess that’s saying something.

If someone I knew was in AIH, I’d probably avoid talking about them at all costs, for fear of offending. If anyone reading this has a relationship with a band member, my condolences.

One way to have some fun with this album is to try to pick which song agitates the most. For my money, it’s “Debbie,” a horn-heavy disco number with the kind of falsetto vocals that should’ve gone out of style when Beck’s Midnite Vultures fell out of favor. Which is to say, a few of months after its release.

If AIH were a Flight of the Conchords-style joke act, they still wouldn’t be entertaining. Please, for the love of all things holy, do not give HBO their number.

By Casey Rae-Hunter

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