Gig Review: Architecture in Helsinki

By Brendan Mcfadden

The intimate location of Manchester Academy 3 played host to Architecture in Helsinki who arrived as part of their whistle-stop-trip around the UK in their current world tour.

The group hail from Melbourne, Australia, and brand themselves as modernist pop merchants who offer original, fastidious, light and soothing tones conveyed via decoders, hand claps, brass and synths.

A broad spectrum of their work is on show tonight, including their newest album Moment Bends, which is very much a slick slice of vivacious electro-pop that pulls the band forward and a tad away from their jolly indie-pop routes.

The construction of heavily synthetic, decoder-driven choruses, although slightly different from previous LPs Places Like This and In Case We Die, still holds dear their astute, spacey twinkles.

Glimmers of 1980s electronic acts  Soft Cell and The Human League can be heard in grand, atmospheric choruses like ‘Escapee’ and ‘Everything’s Blue’, in contrast to their rather bouncy, leisurely rhythm; a modern day twist on the genre.

Treats like Moment Bends’ single ‘That Beep’ have the crowd tapping their feet and nodding their heads in appreciation. As do the flowing, bouncy exuberance in tracks like ‘It’5’ and ‘Yr Go To,’ and the soothing, passionate intricacies of ‘W.O.W.’.

Cameron Bird on vocals delivers clear and crisp tones and is supported by Kellie Barnes, who complements him well via a mesmerising high-pitched accompaniment. The group bow out with conviction and euphoria courtesy of LondonBeat’s ‘ I’ve been thinking about you,’ which sends a wave of excitement through the venue; It was a fitting way to end the evening, played out to an animated, receptive audience.


In fact, the maturity of their sound and their development as a band has seen an admirable progression since their formation in the late 1990s and this is glaringly apparent tonight, with their tamer, more brass driven roots being less evident.

SOUND & VISION:  Architecture in Helsinki stage presence doesn’t quite match their music’s energy

On a sour note, while there are some great tracks on show, the energy in Architecture In Helsinki’s songs isn’t matched by the musical expression and onstage vigour that you would expect to go hand-in-hand with this type of music.

They often look a little static and lethargic. As the face of the band, vocalist Bird’s crowd interaction is minimal; looking quite humbled and passionate on the mic, his impressive falsetto is not mirrored by his stage work.

Keyboard player Gus Franklin was the bright spark for me though; his rhythmic dancing to the music was that absorbing I was suspect that it hadn’t been choreographed beforehand. His colourful expressionisms could and should of perhaps have been shared by his companions.

Grumbles aside, this is a fresh performance from an experienced band on top of their game at the moment; more than a moderate acclaim in an age of vast indie-pop group disintegration after one good album. What Architecture do is deliver a sheer brand of glee and jingle-jangly fairground playfulness that surprisingly has a wider appeal than to teddy bear loving children.

What they do they do very well, but you wonder whether if they are to progress any further then they must cast aside the playful happy school prom band sound and move forwards to begin a new chapter.

After 10 years, Architecture in Helsinki looks very different from humble beginnings as art students from Melbourne, but maturity is shining through and they are taking positive steps in their musical journey.

Architecture in Helsinki

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