Architecture in Helsinki

Moment Bends

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It took Architecture in Helsinki a while to follow up Places Like This, which they had recorded with founder Cameron Bird in Brooklyn and the rest of the group scattered across the globe. All the bandmembers reconvened in Australia to make Moment Bends, and it’s hard not to think that this is a large part of why they sound much more focused than they did before. The 2008 single “That Beep” -- which they recorded during the two years they holed up in their studio, Buckingham Palace, making this album -- suggested that Architecture in Helsinki were back to their usual bouncy and irrepressible selves with a veneer of sleek synth pop. Moment Bends makes good on the single’s promise, with Architecture in Helsinki moving forward by looking back -- not only to their own skills with hooks and melodies, but to ‘80s synth pop too. “Desert Island” captures the album’s feel, its artificial tropical paradise coming across like a strange but appealing hybrid of Wham! and Matthew Wilder's “Break My Stride.” It also features some of Bird's finest singing to date, falling somewhere in between his earlier wispy vocals and his forced throatiness on Places Like This. Indeed, much of Moment Bends finds the band discovering a happy medium between its old and new sounds, as on “Everything’s Blue,” which tempers Places Like This' attempts at funk with a fresher and more natural approach. Architecture in Helsinki don’t so much borrow from the ‘80s as they embody them, whether on “Denial Style”'s Paisley Park pop or “Contact High” and “Sleep Talkin”'s lightly soulful, Culture Club-like approach. At times, the pristine sonics overwhelm the actual songs, and the lone ballad “B4 3D” closes the album on a slightly anticlimactic note, but overall Moment Bends is a return to form, if not quite as inspired as Architecture in Helsinki's best moments.

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