I'm From Barcelona
Let Me Introduce My Friends


4.0
excellent

Review

by RandyfromPennywise USER (34 Reviews)
June 25th, 2007 | 18 replies


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Massive group of Swedes put together one of the most likeable and accessible Indie Pop records of ’06.

I always admire three-piece bands. If nothing else, they’re very thrifty. Everyone’s doing something, and some are doing two things. Four- and five-piece bands are great, too. I always thought six was a bit much though, but they can work. Twenty-nine? Twenty-fking-nine? Now that’s just silly. But there’s something about the way the 29 members of I’m From Barcelona go about their business that makes it hard to dislike them. At times, Let Me Introduce My Friends sounds like a big bunch of people having a great time, with music merely the by-product. And that’s where this band comes in to its own. The music is simple, catchy and often sublimely melodious, yet above all else, it’s fun and feel-good. The lyrics are unashamedly simple and unpretentious, the musicianship is far from dexterous and the overall sound is effortlessly uncomplicated. The sum of the parts is a memorable collection of very poppy Indie songs that is hard not to enjoy.

There’s something about feel-good music. Admittedly, most of it isn’t enduring, classic stuff, and a hell of a lot of it is Pop music. I can’t be totally certain where Let Me Introduce My Friends stands on the former, but on the latter, it’s pretty much as close to Pop as Indie can get. This is really poppy Indie Pop. Not Arctic Monkeys or The Kooks. We’re talking the poppiness of Architecture in Helsinki and the harmonies of Blonde Redhead. The group vocals (with, I assume, 29 voices at once) are undeniably one of the highlights of the album, led adroitly by the alluring dulcet tones of Emanuel Lundgren on tracks like Barcelona Loves You and the eclectic gem Chicken Pox. The lyrics of the latter are some of the strongest on the album, almost unbelievably effective in their simplicity. As Lundgren explains that certain diseases can only be caught once, the lead line of “You can’t have it once you’ve had it” caps off a brilliantly suggestive take on the pain of love. It’s yet another example of the simplicity of the lyrics on the album - most of the songs have one verse and one chorus which are repeated, resulting in many songs having just six or eight lines of lyrics. It’s the album’s simplicity which is one of its greatest strengths.

Let Me Introduce My Friends is unquestionably a consistent album, with no poor tracks and the sentiment - that of a fun and carefree attitude - successfully carried throughout each of the 11 tracks. Oversleeping kicks the album off in appropriate style, with its subdued verses contrasting with the rolling choruses, all the while showcasing a diverse mix of instruments, including kazoos, banjos, bells, xylophones and God knows what else. Mimicking the vocal line on what sounds like a glockenspiel or a xylophone, or whatever, works brilliantly and the group vocals are again prominent. Collection Of Stamps uses vocal harmonies effectively without using words, which in this case isn’t necessarily a bad thing - the lyrics are, well, ridiculous. They speak of a collection of stamps, quite literally. “I’ve got one from Spain and two from Japan” etc. etc. Whatever. Anyway, it takes the appropriately-titled We’re From Barcelona to really get the album going, and this more moderate, relaxed - almost child-like music (see Architecture in Helsinki) - is three minutes of mellow Indie Pop bliss. The na na na backing vocals support the flowing drum beat exceptionally, as the dreamy feeling of not only the album but the band in general is summarised here. The horns are integrated to the song to add yet another layer to the already full sound. But it’s the imagery of the exceptional Treehouse that provides probably the album highlight. The absorbed and charismatic vocal lines initially draw the attention, but there are enough layers here to maintain interest for much longer than you’d originally expect. The repeated chorus only becomes more alluring with the addition of Beach Boys-style harmonies and an a cappella break which yet again changes the tempo effectively. It’s a five-minute song, and the last three minutes is only the chorus. It works.

One of the most attractive aspects of the band is the communal feel they manage to portray in just about every song. There is a sense that you could be doing this. After all, with 29 band members, surely some mustn’t be doing that much. This sentiment is probably best captured in the lyrics of We’re From Barcelona:

I'm gonna sing this song with all of my friends
And we're
I'm from Barcelona
Love is a feeling that we don't understand
But we're gonna give it to ya.

We'll aim for the stars
We'll aim for your heart when the night comes
And we'll bring you love
You'll be one of us when the night comes.


This is carried through to the surprisingly catchy Barcelona Loves You which further emphasises the feel-good, fun attitude of the band and theme of the album. For an native English speaker like myself, the little imperfections in these Swedes’ accents and some of the word orders of the lyrics provide another reason to smile. The Swedish accent’s a great one, and lines like “If I skip to wear clothes” (Oversleeping) just add something to the lyrics. I think it’s pretty cool listening to people sing/reading people’s lyrics in a second language. The sense of this band crossing boundaries is encapsulated throughout the album, with a truly familiar aspect to just about every song.

I’m From Barcelona show that too many cooks don’t necessarily spoil the broth, as they successfully export their accommodating, fun, happy, almost caring attitude to their debut LP. This is a huge bunch of friends just having a good time, and we’re more than welcome to listen in. Let Me Introduce My Friends is somewhere between The Shins-style Indie and dreamy, seemingly nostalgic Pop music. But don’t get me wrong - while there are certain similarities to other bands, I’m From Barcelona is as unique a prospect as you’ll get, and Let Me Introduce My Friends is just about as good a collection of songs you could ask 29 people to produce. Perhaps many hands do make light work.

Recommended tracks:

We’re From Barcelona
Treehouse
Chicken Pox
Barcelona Loves You
.

http://www.myspace.com/imfrombarcelona



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user ratings (25)
Chart.
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
The Jungler
June 25th 2007


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I listened to this a little while back and it's pretty cool stuff. I'm not sure I like it as much as you do though. I might end up seeing them live at Lollapalooza but I'm not sure yet.
Whatever the case, good job on the review.

John Paul Harrison
June 25th 2007


1014 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

um fuck yes.

the only downside i found to this album is that you can get those creepy manson family vibes every now and again.

RandyfromPennywise
June 25th 2007


752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ha never really thought of it that way.

TheStarclassicTreatment
June 25th 2007


2910 Comments


Heard this album a whille ago and hated it.
Ah well...

samthebassman
June 25th 2007


2164 Comments


Great work again Randy, I have never heard of these guys but I will see if I can track down some of their stuff.

sgrevs
June 26th 2007


698 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great album, great review, lots of fun in this one. We're From Barcelona is about the most uplifting song I can think of when i'm feeling down.

dub sean
June 26th 2007


980 Comments


Randy what's your MSN, it doesn't show in your profile

RandyfromPennywise
June 26th 2007


752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

carefreewhereeveryoumaybewearethefamouscfc
@hotmail.com

I'm pretty sure it is there in my profile, just it's too long so I can't put "Hotmail.com" in there.

Bron-Yr-Aur
July 2nd 2007


4405 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

oversleeping is ridiculously catchy

Fort23
July 2nd 2007


2475 Comments


This is a realy rad album.

TheLibertyScene
August 13th 2007


46 Comments


damn treehouse is a seriously good song, the lyrics are what makes it. haha.

Catchthe22
August 16th 2007


95 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

lyrics are awesome and the songs are catchy. This album just makes me a better person overall.

RandyfromPennywise
August 23rd 2007


752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"This album makes me a better person overall"

CLASSIC!

Bron-Yr-Aur
September 16th 2007


4405 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

really boring actually, with a few notable exceptions

blackmilk
September 16th 2007


584 Comments


Architecture From Barsinkilona

Bron-Yr-Aur
September 16th 2007


4405 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

hey that's some quick wit you've got there

RandyfromPennywise
July 2nd 2008


752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is much better than recent Architecture In Ustinki.

Isolation
March 22nd 2012


2 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is so catchy it's almost downright disgusting.



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