In their first Australian tour in what seems like eternity, Melbourne indie-pop darlings Architecture in Helsinki returned to the national stage in support of their fourth album, Moment Bends. Not limited to home turf, AIH have carved quite a name for themselves outside of Australia, particularly in the US and Europe, with this string of local shows kicking off a world tour.
On this particular fun-filled QLD leg, Brisbane’s HiFi Bar in the West End played host to an evening of pop-tastic delights, with pint sized kiwi chanteuse Zowie opening to a mounting crowd. Being relatively new to the Aussie scene, she’s already carved out quite the cross-over rep for herself, having achieved radio airplay on both alt and commercial stations and touring with international acts as far flung as Mark Ronson and Katy Perry.
With a wild eyed, frenetic energy and impossibly cute NZ accent (‘thes song es about deckhids’), Zowie and her trio of boy band dropout look-alikes set up the dance floor vibe early on, their electro heavy, pop-rock tunes and frenzied attitude being likened amongst the crowd to a hipper, younger and dirtier version of Rogue Traders.
Unsurprisingly, the room was at capacity by the time Architecture in Helsinki hit the stage, to what felt like the opening chords of Xanadu. As a piercing blue light scanned the eager crowd and the impossibly funky reggae beat of Desert Island kicked in, my Olivia Newton-John fantasies were quashed. Still, the 80s force was strong with these ones, as keyboardist/singer Kellie Sutherland channelled Madonna circa Like A Virgin, whilst front man Cameron Bird dedicated yet another new track to those who “watched Eurovision”.
The much anticipated string of hits rolled out with Hold Music, eliciting more screams and anglo-booty shaking than my mother’s Hawaiian-themed 50th. A choreographed dance routine mid-That Beep signalled yet more cheers of delight and a quick glance around at our fellow revellers revealed that more than a few had gathered in individual jam-circles to bust out a come back.
Pounding bass, relentless live electronic drums and crisp vocals (that make it look oh-so-easy to sing in perfect harmony) kept the night rolling, ending all too soon with a sublimely calypso heavy Heart it Races. Punctuating dance floor sing-a-longs with newer material and an impressive cover of 90s hit I’ve Been Thinking About You, the show moved in and out of 80s blue-light disco territory. Of the Moment Bends reportoire, it seems as though key single Contact High was the only track able to kick it with the big guns. At risk of sounding naff, I think I like their old stuff better than their new stuff and judging on the crowd response, I was not alone.
Regardless, the night’s proceedings showcased a finely crafted collection of pop songs, whilst retaining that ever important indie edge. The fiercely loyal audience was made up of girls, guys, gays… you name it, they were there to see our favourite poster children for alt-pop make a long awaited comeback, not a suspicious winter tan in sight.