You may not have expected it, all the way from Melbourne, but the first great modernist pop album of 2011 is here. Four years after their last album, Architecture In Helsinki return with the hook-laden, magnetic and lush "Moment Bends". It sounds like an album they've waited their whole lives to make, retaining the fizzing immediacy of its three predecessors and re-moulded with a more sophisticated, kaleidoscopic touch.
In large parts, Moment Bends is in dialogue with the dance floor without being a slave to any particular rhythm. So imagine a sound that's equal parts Italia '82, California '79 and Melbourne 2011, glued together with a dynamic electronic bounce and a compelling romanticism.
Moment Bends was recorded over two years in the band's studio, Buckingham Palace, named after the huge photo mural of Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham that the band had hung on the wall. "His eyes acted as a portal to the creative dimension" singer Cameron Bird recalls of the man he calls, "a life long musical influence." Lindsey's meticulous, singular & honest take on the pop form has undoubtedly infiltrated Moment Bends. Though, it must be said, the album's essence comes from the undeniable chemistry within the AIH camp, with Cameron joined as usual by Kellie Sutherland, Gus Franklin, Jamie Mildren and Sam Perry.
To ensure they didn't lose aeons in a self-imposed studio stupor, the band chose to work with a co-producer for the first time in it's career. In mid 2008, long-time friend and mentor, Franc Tetaz was hired for his "gilded ears and ability to make magic".
The results speak for themselves, AIH's trademark pop smarts are fully evident, rounded out by a new found confidence and a willingness to embrace intimacy and emotional directness.
The whole of Moment Bends is built on a series of shifting sands, but AIH have always believed in a heady, eclectic sound and vision. In the dying days of the nineties Architecture in Helsinki rose from the ashes of a high school band formed by Cameron, Jamie and Sam. Looking for a new start they named themselves after words cut out from a newspaper and re-arranged in an act of magnetic poetry.
As it turns out, taking time to get it right is an AIH trait. Cameron and Kellie met by chance at the turn of the century and soon after Kellie tagged along to a band rehearsal.
Over the next couple of years the band expanded to an octet via a series of art school happenings and released their debut album Fingers Crossed in early 2003, though it wasn't released outside of their homeland until 2004. The band started to make serious inroads in to North America with glowing reviews and the start of years of extensive touring.
AIH's sophomore album was recorded in a giant garage in Melbourne's East Brunswick. Built over 5 intense months in mid 2004, with dozens of guests and more ideas than should be legal, In Case We Die was released worldwide in early 2005. It's lead track 'Do The Whirlwind' became the band's first internationally released single. The band's worldwide touring schedule was exhaustive. They became renowned for live shows bursting with energy, sweat, heart and fun.
In mid 2006, AIH embarked on it's next creative experiment. Cameron moved to Brooklyn whilst the rest of the band remained in Australia. AIH wrote and arranged it's 3rd album via the wonders of the internet. The songs were recorded in Brooklyn at the tail-end of a U.S. Tour and completed in Sydney in December 2006. The first single, 'Heart It Races' was accompanied by the kind of inventive and vibrant music video that was also becoming an AIH trademark. 'Places Like This' was released worldwide in July 2007, and it's been an eventful four years since.
Moment Bends is the product of a period when the band, Cameron included, purposefully settled down in and re-connected with their hometown of Melbourne after an extended period "lost in the ether" where the band members had scattered across the globe.
For 2 years between 2009 and 2011 a small west facing room on top of an average Thai restaurant, was the AIH studio, Buckingham Palace. And the songs poured out, the most detailed and progressive that band had ever created.
"It was all about painting romantic ideas with big bold gestures" concludes Bird, "We wanted to hear what it sounds like to get lost in someone's eyes!"
After a decade and more, imbibing the sights and sounds of the world, from a theoretical Helsinki to reality in Melbourne and all points in between, all filtered through the collective AIH mindset, that journey never seems to stop. Where will the wave crash next? Watch this space.