HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 July 2008
I love the little EPs that bands come out with between albums, saddled with remixes and B-sides to keep people attentive.
And now it's Architecture in Helsinki's turn -- "Like it Or Not," five songs that this Aussie band cobbled together into a nice little EP. Obviously these odds and ends are not their best material, but it makes for a pleasant listen -- lots of sprightly melodies, fun fast-paced instrumentation, a live performance, and unexpected (and extremely mixed) remixery.
It opens with an alternate version of "Like It Or Not," a deliciously jangly, fast-paced little horns-bells-and-guitar pop melody, which starts off with a psychedelic chorale. "I'll tell you anything but not the truth/My mum thinks she's in love with you and I'm NOT," Cameron Bird rattles off at lightning speed, in between jangly instruments and "wa wa wa wa!"
The chorus shows this: in a building blast of horns, whistle and driving riffs, Bird yells, "When we were cornered/in a bid to scare/I kept you from my reaches/didn't mean to care/what we got..." And then in almost a whisper, "do you like it or not?"
Then there's the "One Heavy," a thumpy synthpoppy song that is tempered somewhat with the rattling percussion and cheering voices toward the end. And "Hold Music (Max Tundra Remix)" is a pretty schizophrenic experience -- sometimes it sounds like the song was split into samples, rearranged at random, and played. It has a funky, quirky charm, though -- it gets catchier after the first thirty seconds or so, and halfway through it's painted in delicate synth.
Not all the songs are so great, though. "Beef in a Box" is all cascading riffs and twisty synth, and it never quite decides whether it wants to be a rocker or a discoesque dance song. On the other hand, "Like it or Not (El Guincho Remix)" is a glorious musical experience -- the whole thing is remixed in a sort of psychedelic Mexican style, and is only hampered by the weird growly vocals.
The "Like It Or Not" EP is a bit of a mixed bag -- some of these songs are alternate versions or remixes, but a couple sound like they were dabbling in other kinds of pop. A techno beat here, a hefty riff there, and their sprightly janglepop evolves into something very different, very quickly. In some of these cases, they still manage to include their colorful, signature sound.
There's a lot more electronica in this particular EP, as compared to their albums -- lots of burbles, beats and blips, as well as the electronic backbones of "One Heavy" and "Beef in a Box." But the regular instruments are still prominent, with some sprightly jangly riffs, quirky percussion (are those cans being tapped?), xylophone, harp and a seemingly endless stream of warm, mellow horns.
But poor Bird -- his high sweet vocals get a workout here. He sounds magnificent in the main song, and he gets to rap throughout "Beef in the Box" ("You don't stop/you don't stop/you don't stop/TILL THE BEEF'S IN THE BOX!"), and then switches to the mildly drunk warbles of "Hold Music." As for the two remaining songs, his vocals are smothered in the music.
The "Like It Or Not" EP is a mixed bag of styles, playing and instrumentation, and some of it doesn't pay off. But it's a pleasant, extremely odd little piece of work.