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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
I'm From Barcelona
Let Me Introduce My Friends
Mute

Rating: 8/10 ?


March 20, 2007
I'm From Barcelona is one of those collective line-ups like Broken Social Scene or The New Pornographers who have a couple dozen contributing musicians working in an almost industrial manner to assemble an album. Like the New Pornographers, I'm From Barcelona is a jangle-pop lovers dream - loaded with bells, whistles, chubby tubas and enough hand claps to please front-row cuties from Chicago to Shanghai. Fans of The Polyphonic Spree will love Let Me Introduce My Friends' collection of bubbly tunes. That said, if, like me, you get annoyed by people who are constantly positive, I'm From Barcelona might not be your cup of tea.

Sweden's Emanuel Lundgren is the band's charismatic chief songwriter and resident ginger. Lyrically Lundgren creates a cult-like feel with sunshiny lyrics that directly address his listeners. Lundgren's English lyrics are heavily clichéd but his Swedish accent and naïve sincerity make the poetry palatable. It also helps that Lundgren kisses his listeners' asses. On the track "Barcelona Loves You" Lundgren heaps the fan love on:

"We never wanna say goodnight/ we never wanna say 'It's time'… There's a thing left to say before we go/ we would sing that we're all in love with you"

With lyrics like these, Lundgren creates a communal relationship with his audience by praising them for their devotion to his band. Songs range in subject from hippie dreams like the banjo-laden "Treehouse" to "Ola Kala" where Lundgren tells his audience not to fear:

"Don't be afraid/ cuz everything is gonna turn to be OK"

My frustration with the album comes from its inability to acknowledge the dark side of living on Earth. Songs about wearing glasses, underwater trains and tree houses seem to hold Lundgren's interest much more than lamentations on love and death. Because Let Me Introduce My Friends refuses to confront life's harsh, meat-hook tragedies; the listening experience is almost like taking an involuntary vacation from reality. There is nothing inherently wrong with positivity but at some point it begins to seem disingenuous. This is a minor beef though because overall Lundgren and company have crafted an incredible pop record whose lyrics take a backset to the music.

Let Me Introduce My Friends' choral pop is catchy. Hearing these infectious harmonies and sugary lyrics almost immediately results in toe tapping. The diverse instrumentation used by I'm From Barcelona only adds to the aural sunshine that will pour out of your speakers with each listen. I guess, in a music world populated with loads of bands who ape Joy Division's darkness, a happy band isn't such a bad thing.

Reviewed by Jon Burke
A contributing writer and a Chicago resident who will not be goaded by LAS’s editor into revealing any more details about his potentially sordid affairs.

See other reviews by Jon Burke

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