With a near-egalitarian gender split, a tendency toward horns (including trombone and tuba), and the wry ability to deliver phrases like "permanent malaise," "kill you politely," and "11 different reasons for fists and fights" while still claiming its twee pop turf, Architecture in Helsinki is the hands-down winner as 2005's Australian band most likely to be compared to Belle and Sebastian. But that doesn't really explain its sound. Imagine a group of eight spirited players trapped in the well-stocked music room of an elementary school. Instruments are passed like so many family-style dinner platters. Traditional structures are blown up as if by firecrackers. On one song, an apparent celebration of the number five, the chorus is delivered with enough squeals of delight to make the piece function as a Sesame Street audition. And with percussion (tambourine, triangle -- truly anything that can be struck) strewn about like the contents of a toddler's toy box, just be glad you don't have to clean up after them.
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