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The Glee Club: Architecture in Helsinki at La Sala Rossa

Posted by Asmaa / May 22, 2006


From special correspondent Omar Majeed:

Among the Broken Social Scenes and the Jaga Jazzists, Architecture in Helsinki are the latest contenders in the dawn of the ambitious musical collective. This Australian octet (great word) write songs that music journalists have dubbed "twee pop." It’s not a bad description considering the mixture of Bacharach, Brian Wilson and Esquivel arrangements toped with cutesy vocals that is their signature, but it falls to capture the real spirit of the group.

As I walked over to Sala Rossa last Friday to catch their show, I wondered how they were going to pull it off. Whenever I listen to an AIH song, I always imagine a classroom of attention-deficit-disordered musical protégés improvising while their strict music teacher has gone to the bathroom. It's very controlled, but it’s chaotic at the same time. The Owls Go, one of their best songs, is filled with perfectly executed finger snaps, claps, children’s chants ("Attic in a basement with a knife serrated, I’ll protect you"), recorder flutes, trombone, and even a glockenspeil (I think). There is an intro, a verse, a chorus, a bridge, a verse done in half-time before the even-slower acapella coda. Did I mention that this all happens in three and a half minutes?

Three songs into the show, they performed The Owls Go, and as I shamelessly sang along, all doubts were erased. The show was so very awesome, despite their taking the stage very late, and being preceded by the lamest funk-rock band this side of the Spin Doctors. 33Hz (yes, that’s their name) were basically a watered-down INXS cover band fronted by a swarthy Prince wannabe. Why the hell this band was chosen to open for AIH is anyone’s guess, but I was in a foul mood before AIH took the stage, and afterwards (despite a backache from standing too long) I felt glee. Glee, I tell you, GLEE.

Here’s what surprised me. AIH for all their “twee pop” sensibility, actually know how to rock and roll. They were loud, the guitars were fuzzy, the vocals were wild and sometimes almost punk-like. And they were really into it. Watching eight people smile, shake, change instruments, and bang on drums like they mean it can’t help is music magic. The songs came out a lot looser and rawer than the album versions, and that was fantastic. At times, it was like watching The Pixies crossed with the Muppet Show band (Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem).

And if that ain’t a sure-fire formula for glee, I don’t know what else is.

Incidentally, the first opening band, Clue to Kalo, were a pretty good folky-electronica trio. My advice to AIH is ditch the middle act, get on stage earlier and just play.



Lisa / May 22, 2006 at 03:59 pm
Great review, I'll check them out.
I don't for a moment believe though, that "glee" is one of the colours of the dark rainbow that it Omar's emotional repertoire. Not for a moment.
fabrizio Filippo / May 22, 2006 at 09:12 pm
great review. i want to see these guys now.
azed / May 22, 2006 at 10:27 pm
I hate you, you lucky bastard-o, Omar Majeed, i was going to go see these guys here in Toronto this past saturday with Nick, but I wasn't sure if it was going to be worth the trouble. If only you had posted this last week...timing, Omar, timing is everything. Great review!

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