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Architecture in Helsinki

Take a high school band from suburban Australia, lock it in a recording studio with records by Belle & Sebastian, Brigitte Bardot, and the Beach Boys, then give its members only sugary snacks to subsist upon and you might come up with Architecture in Helsinki's debut CD, Fingers Crossed. While not as euphoric as the octet's live shows, the record is the best twee symphonic pop to come along in ages. There are boys singing like girls and girls singing like 5-year-olds, trumpet players plucking thumb piano and guitarists whacking glockenspiels, and nine -- nine! -- kinds of keyboards. Lyrically, the group traffics in a type of quaint teenage ennui, whispering about owls, ice skating, and opportunities missed. If this record is anything like the real architecture in Helsinki, that city's buildings are made of cotton candy, covered in pink polka dots, and affixed with telescopes, so all the kids can dream of a better love life on Mars. -- Dan Strachota