The phrase "novelty act" comes with a lot of baggage, but it seems to apply nicely to Architecture in Helsinki. The Australian octet is wont to be wacky, flirty, whiny and twee -- sometimes all at the same time. In 2004, four years after forming, the band released its debut album, Fingers Crossed. Its latest release, In Case We Die, took its eclectic shape with the help of dozens of drop-by-the-studio contributions by talented neighbors and friends. The album's sunshiny centerpiece, "It's 5," lays a solid pop foundation for the experimental songs that follow, including the '50s-girl-group sounds of "Wishbone" and the electronic-tinged rock-opera mood of "In Case We Die (parts 1-4)." During their live shows, Helsinki members play a kind of musical chairs game on stage, switching between a host of instruments at the drop of a blueprint. Unless your quirky-appreciation quotient is alarmingly low, missing this treasure from Down Under would be a real blunder.
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