We live in an ADD-driven world. From 24-hour news tickers to instant touch-of-the-finger information, time has been optimized to its fullest, wasted time being society's cardinal sin. Music is no exception. It has been dying—we are constantly reminded of this—from the onset of the internet age. CDs are useless, and the album is obsolete. With song-by-song downloading, wasted time has been erased from music, and what the industry has to offer can be absorbed and consumed in rapid succession and at unfathomable speeds—perfectly suited to any latent Attention Deficit Disorder.
The indie community is, however, in full backlash. One quick gaze at the artists that are currently being popularly referenced as influences (the Beach Boys, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen) and it becomes pretty apparent that hurrying up isn't everything. Indie has been going epic, creating sprawling Albums (with a capital "A"), inherently resistant to any "single" downloads. Leave it to a band of outsiders to aim a critical eye at this dichotomous nature of single vs. album, or in many respects, speed/quantity vs. quality, and destroy the very notion that they need to be perceived as antonyms. Architecture in Helsinki, a Melbourne, Australia sextet, has embraced all their surroundings and musical upbringings to create a style of music that will both please the ADD-riddled and appease the album-oriented. In fact, the amount of music they are able to throw into one album is second only to reigning mash-up king Girl Talk, the other artist brave enough to fully encompass the benefits of what our fast-paced culture has to offer.
One need look no further to discover the diversity of sounds than AiH's newly released single, "Heart it Races," the first song off their yet to be released album Places Like This. The song contains steel drums, African-like percussion, a bass line comprised of vocals, twisted organ lines, and folk melodies. It literally is, in itself, almost a mash-up, with so many non-blending genres being readily present and thrown together. "Heart it Races" also contains four remixes that all take entirely different things away from the song (reggae, slacker lo-fi indie, dance, and synth-pop), making it pretty clear just how much they are able to incorporate into any given pop song.
Boasting an array of different instruments—counted often at upward of 20 per song—AiH's roots lie in twee, pop, and a Down Under jangly guitar sound. Each member takes on any number of instruments at any given time, in addition to sharing the vocal duties, which often leads to a clusterfuck (in a good way) of sound. Here is a band who, rather than being content with sticking to the basic guitar-bass-drums formula, encompasses everything—whether it be good or bad—and manages to create a musical structure as fast and diverse as the world we live in. In any given three-minute pop song there are chances of prog-rock-like tempo changes, walls of vocals, and a plethora of instruments being played. For all its shifting and speedy changes, their music never loses its laidback charm, nor do they ever come across as anything other than energetic. A contradiction? Yes. But for Architecture in Helsinki, it somehow makes perfect sense.