poppy, but not the popular kind
not much there lyrically in the included clip, but it sure is catchy

Grade 1.5

released Apr 19th, 2011

from the album - Get In Line - 2.0


from all music


When the rock histories of the 2000s are written, at least one long chapter will have to be devoted to the explosion of the concept of the rock band not as a small, discrete unit with relatively stable personnel, but as an amorphous, free-floating collective that could at times expand to include dozens of people. Canada's Broken Social Scene and the pan-European ensemble the Envelopes are perhaps the best-known examples, but I'm from Barcelona -- whose members actually hail from Jnkping, Sweden -- may have them beat in terms of sheer scale: 29 bandmates performed on I'm from Barcelona's debut EP, which introduced the group's sunny, singalong pop sound and eclectic mix of instruments.

That EP began as a one-off lark inspired in part by Sweden's legendarily generous labor laws. Given four weeks of paid vacation time from his office job, part-time singer/songwriter Emanuel Lundgren decided to invite all of his friends -- most of whom were not in fact professional musicians -- to help him make a D.I.Y. EP during the summer of 2005. Recorded at Lundgren's house and various public spots around Jnkping, the EP's completion was celebrated by what was supposed to be the group's debut and farewell performance, with a band name chosen almost at random from the classic British sitcom Fawlty Towers. ("I'm from Barcelona" was the catch phrase for incompetent waiter Manuel.) However, when Lundgren self-released the EP (now titled Sing!!) in August, the popular response was enthusiastic enough to attract an offer from Swedish branch of EMI, who signed I'm from Barcelona that year. The band's blend of sunshiny choral vocals, chamber pop instrumentation (heavy on the horns, banjos, and accordions), and folk-influenced tunes earned I'm from Barcelona comparisons to the Polyphonic Spree, Sufjan Stevens, and the Flaming Lips, and developed an almost instantaneous online cult.

Released in early 2006, the Don't Give Up on Your Dreams, Buddy! EP featured the single "We're from Barcelona" and was followed several months later by the band's full-length debut, Let Me Introduce My Friends. Live incarnations of I'm from Barcelona depended upon how many of the 29 members could attend on any given date; occasionally, Lundgren and Swedish electronica artist Adventure Kid would perform all-electronic dates as a duo. The full group gathered together to record the decidedly more melancholy Who Killed Harry Houdini?, which was released in 2008. During the fall of that year, 27 members hit the road to support the album on tour; while playing shows across Europe, the band also began to work on 27 Songs from Barcelona, a 27-track album featuring one song per bandmate. After releasing the finished product in 2010, I'm from Barcelona returned to the studio and recorded their third "proper" album, 2011's Forever Today, in two live sessions.

Album Review

Sometime after the release of Im from Barcelona's melancholy to the point of tears Who Killed Harry Houdini? album, life must have gotten better for the bands leader, Emanuel Lundgren. Released in 2011, Forever Today restores the sunny disposition and breezily melodic attitude of their debut record, with only an occasional cloud looming overhead, but also a deeper emotional context and impact. Recorded live in two sessions, the record has a marvelously loose and unaffected sound as the huge band (22 members strong) fills in the tunes with horns, percussion, and group vocals. Lundgren has become a master of fitting the pieces together to make the ensemble sound both innocently intimate and impressively large when the occasion demands. His vocals, too, have become stronger and more expressive. With the sound and voices, the songs could be a little weak and the album would still make for nice background music on a warm summer day. They are quite strong, though, mostly leaping out of the speakers and straight into your memory bank. Starting off with the incredibly buoyant and summery "Charlie Parker," the album bursts to life like the first light of the morning shining through the blinds. The next couple songs also blind you with sunbeams. "Get in Line"s bubbling dance beats and chanted chorus are incredibly sticky and light, and as for the barrelhouse piano and ba-ba-ba backing vocals of "Battleships" and the fragile hopes and tender bells of "Always Spring" -- they're almost too much, almost too joyous and pretty to handle. Lundgrens heart isnt on his sleeve; its on yours, beating away like crazy. The rest of the album barely lets up, with the heavenly pop hits coming one after the other. Between the nakedly honest vocals, the power of the massed voices, and the tenderness underlying the music and melodies, Forever Today is a perfect blend of the lighthearted joy of the debut record and the weary gloom of Houdini. Lundgren and crew may have lost some of the buzz they initially had when the band first started, but theyve gained grace and emotional strength in return. Thats a pretty good trade, and for the fans who have stuck with them, it makes Forever Today their most satisfying record to date.

Track Listing

1 Charlie Parker Lundgren 3:03
2 Get in Line Lundgren 3:08
3 Battleships Lundgren 3:18
4 Always Spring Lundgren 3:11
5 Can See Miles Lundgren 3:21
6 Come On Lundgren 2:53
7 Skipping a Beat Lundgren 3:00
8 Dr. Landy Lundgren 2:39
9 Game Is On Lundgren 4:41
10 Forever Today Lundgren 3:32