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'Heart It Races' and the Sounds of Stuff

Architecture in Helsinki crams an incredible amount of <em>stuff</em> into its songs.
Architecture in Helsinki crams an incredible amount of stuff into its songs.

Just about any band with six members, all of whom run around the stage singing and swapping instruments, is bound to operate with a degree of eclecticism. Architecture in Helsinki crams an incredible amount of stuff into its songs, dashing from one idea to the next with manic speed, making each one sound at once cohesive and random.

"Heart It Races," from the upcoming Places Like This, is no exception. The words are dispensed with childlike glee and breathy excitement. The singers' rounded accents occasionally obscure the words, but the meanings are equally hidden: "And we're slow to acknowledge the knots in the laces / Heart it races / And we go back to where we moved out to the places / Heart it races." Meanwhile, a jumbled symphony provides a steady heartbeat, as drum machines and synthesizers give way to a bobbing bass chorus of "boom... boom... boom..." To further twist the beating heart, cue the shimmering plonk of steel drums dancing atop the sonic pile.

Though the overall effect remains bouncingly joyful, a darkly nonsensical turn in the words could bring things to a halt: "I sold it to a man and threw him out the window / He went / boom da da da da boom da da da da / Made his wife a widow." But the big "boom" of Architecture in Helsinki's unexpected twist gets buried in the wash of sound, and the song keeps bounding along.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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Claire Blaustein
Claire Blaustein is a freelance writer and music critic who writes for a variety of publications, including The Washington Post, Exclaim! Magazine and La Scena Musicale. She came to NPR as a Performance Today intern in 2005, and has thus far refused to leave. When not doing any of the above, she writes in her blog, I Dig Music..., and pouts until someone gives her a new CD to play with.