Architecture in Helsinki: A bird's eye view 

click to enlarge Who are we kidding? These guys would be different anywhere.
  • Who are we kidding? These guys would be different anywhere.

Architecture in Helsinki singer-visionary Cameron Bird is as lost in the sensory-overload world as a person who grew up in rural Australia and moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., can be.

With his senses frayed, expectations blown and identity challenged, Bird has channeled his Big Apple experiences into Architecture in Helsinki's recently released third album, Places Like This.

When compared to the act's last effort, 2005's In Case We Die, the differences are monumental. Gone are the playful pop aesthetic and tuneful melodies. The new album is best described as a mlange of off-kilter, artsy, frenetic, cluttered notes that mirror the daily life Bird watched take place outside of his Brooklyn window.

"I definitely think that the way the record sounds how manic it is is a reflection of where we're at on a personal level," Bird says over the phone from his New York City home. "I like to think that we make music that's a reflection of what we're feeling.

"Someone said recently, it's almost like the changes that were made between this record and the last one are so extreme that it's at the point that there are some songs [in which] you wouldn't even recognize it's the same band."

That's definitely the case with the experimental-sounding "Underwater," the raucous, in-your-face "Red Turned White" and the discordant "Feather in a Baseball Cap." Perhaps initially a tough sell, Places Like This does have merit as an indie avant-garde album that pushes boundaries.

Much of the album fits a Modest Mouse motif not only from the songwriting perspective, but also in that Bird's vocals often fall right in line with Modest Mouse singer-visionary Isaac Brock's. For Bird, though, Places Like This was all about location.

"[New York City] is really in your face, and it made me work super-hard," he says. "Your neighbors work super-hard. Brooklyn is a hard place to live. It's loud, dirty and people are everywhere. It's like a total opposite of where I grew up. It's one of those places where you either sink or swim."

In theory, sink-or-swim is a concept with which Bird and Co. should be familiar, as a working band in the cutthroat music industry. However, in many ways Bird feels Architecture in Helsinki exists in its own universe. More so, his logic has become the band's rally cry for creative expression.

"We're a band that likes being independent, and I think we're really at peace in the world with the big, bad music industry," Bird says. "I'm aware of people who tried to make it and ended up being jaded. I think it's important particularly with the band to not really involve yourself in that trivial bullshit."

scene@csindy.com Architecture in Helsinki with Nathan & Stephen and Panther

Ogden Theatre, 935 E. Colfax Ave., Denver

Friday, Oct. 26, 9 p.m.

Tickets: $16.50, 16-plus; visit ticketmaster.com.


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