Band names are funny things. Usually they can be separated into two categories: those that were chosen due to a special meaning and those that were chosen because, well, they just sound cool. The moniker of this six-piece band from Melbourne, Australia fits firmly under the latter category despite the hope that they’ll be able to give a mini-lecture on the artistic merits of Finnish buildings. As vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Kellie Sutherland explains, “It kind of came about because we needed a name for the first show that we played. I wasn’t in the band at the time, but [vocalist/songwriter] Cameron [Bird] just cut out some words from a newspaper and arranged them on a table and picked words that sounded good. And I guess that kind of attitude just sort of stuck with us throughout the rest of the band’s history. If it sounds good just do it.” Listening to their third album, Places Like This, it’s not hard to believe that Architecture in Helsinki are having fun in the studio. Upbeat tempos, enthusiastic screaming, frantic climaxes; this band is all about creating the perfect indie rock/pop rush. There are congas, synths, saxophones, and, hell, whatever else you could imagine thrown into every song and when it works, like on the incredibly dance-able and catchy single “Heart It Races,” it’s breathtaking.
Interestingly, the tightness and louder take of this album flowed from AIH’s unorthodox organisation. While the band is from Melbourne, not a lot of their members actually lived in the city when writing this album. Lead vocalist/songwriter Cameron Bird was in Brooklyn while Sutherland was in San Francisco and at least another member somewhere else not in Australia. This is a good thing, though, according to Sutherland. “It’s working for us. I was really surprised, but the best thing that came out of it is that, because we’re all set up with portable studios, it’s pretty self-empowering. It makes it seem so much easier to do anything creative and not necessarily be around at a home or have a home base or anything. It keeps it interesting and means we don’t get super-bored of each other.”
Thus, when they do get together, the results crackle with the electricity so evidently found on Places Like This. For Sutherland, “I think that having the breakaway from everyone and not playing together and writing the songs and then coming together definitely made us kind of go at it aggressively. The live show really influenced the way we started writing the songs for the new album since our attitude when we played live was just a little bit more ‘Turn it up.’ Like, turn it up and make it a performance and really kind of make the song short enough that we don’t get bored and tight enough that people want to dance.”
Indeed, the AIH live show has been a considerable asset for the band, as seeing that much enthusiasm amongst six bouncing musicians always tends to influence the audience. But, Sutherland notes that there is no mission or manifesto to whip crowds into a frenzy. “Our challenge to ourselves is to keep it interesting rather than just regurgitate the same thing over and over. So, that’s our mission statement or, maybe, just stay true to that and if it’s going to make people dance then that’s a really good thing.” Actually, Sutherland puts in best when explaining the state of their songs upon their first live rehearsal after living apart: “They exploded with a different kind of energy once we were all in the same room and we were like, ‘Shit, yeah.’” Damn straight.