Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

ARCHITECTURE IN HELSINKI

Now + 4EVA

2014-04-12

With Architecture in Helsinki's newest, cheekily-titled release Now + 4EVA, the band accepts with WIDE open arms an unapologetically contemporary synth-pop aesthetic, complete with George Michael-esque vocal stylings from Cameron Bird and a tepid yet somehow aggressive cover of Jackie DeShannon's 1963 hit "When You Walk in the Room." Formerly an 8-piece, the Fitzroy, Australia group slimmed down to 5 members and focused their energy on producing a polished and focused pop sound that is evocative of 80s cheesiness and modern disposable radio "bangers." Unlike the chaotic, often bizarre compositions found on the band's earlier albums, Now + 4EVA embraces more linear and unchallenging song structures, and, all told, fails more than it succeeds.

The best tracks on the album are "I Might Survive" and "Dream a Little Crazy." The former capitalizes on lead female vocalist Kellie Sutherland's insanely accessible singing style paired with a breezy, beach-friendly beat, a nice bassline, and probably the least irritating instance of sugary synth leads on the record. The latter possesses similarly beachy vibes, but this time the focal points are Bird's vocals with backing harmonies, some good horn lines, and a more jangly-guitar-jam sound. Album closer "Before Tomorrow" is too vapid to be spectacular, but has a goofy call-and-response section where Bird channels Byrne and a funky bass and horn section carries the weight of a groove. Songs like opener "In the Future", "Boom 4eva", and "2 Time" are all examples of overapplication of effects and vocal filters that make the songs drip with corniness to a point of near unlistenability. "Echo" and "Born To Convince You" are too boring and repetitive to stick in your head, while "U Tell Me" sounds like a lost Backstreet Boys song with some vocodor thrown in for good measure. Admittedly, even with its saccharine ballad/slow-jam form and absurd use of a heavy filter on Bird's vocals throughout, I enjoy "April," but I certainly won't admit to that in person. Ultimately, Now + 4EVA has its few shining moments, but will probably give you a musical cavity despite if you have a sonic sweet tooth the size of Siberia.

Recommended Tracks: #3 "I Might Survive", #4 "Dream a Little Crazy"

Sig Steiger

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