I’m From Barcelona | Forever Today (EMI Music Distribution)

With nearly 30 people singing, it’s hard not to believe them that not only will everything be alright; with some effort, it’ll be extraordinary.

 

 

It’s official; summer is here and Emanuel Lundgren and company are on top of their upbeat, sundrenched game. I’m From Barcelona’s debut, Let Me Introduce My Friends, is one of the catchiest and most fun albums ever to be recorded. Their sophomore effort, Who Killed Harry Houdini, is also respectable, but the gloomy and downtrodden lyrics—though delivered with fantastic, upbeat orchestrations—may have confounded fans that were drawn in by the giddy, funny subject matter of the debut. Forever Today, the new release from the 20+ members of the Swedish group, is uplifting, motivational, and irresistible.

Though not as coy as the debut, this album brims with optimism and sincerity. Its message—to live life and accept who you are—settles the heart, calms the brain, and makes your limbs flap and fly. And with nearly 30 people singing, it’s hard not to believe them that not only will everything be alright; with some effort, it’ll be extraordinary. While the lyrics are shared, each member weaves and builds their instruments and vocals with one another to create thoughtfully hooky songs.

The small army of rebels against complacency all recorded together in the same room. On the opener “Charlie Parker” and a few other tracks, faint talk and the sounds of instruments being tuned and handled are comforting. All of these Swedes with different musical backgrounds and piles of instruments are in one room, and the music comes out overflowing with joy. On “Get in Line,” Lundgren celebrates the unique and independent vibes within others as he repeatedly shouts, “We don’t want to get in line!”

The truly flawless shiner of Forever Today is “Battleships,” which begins with a simple keyboard beat built on by drums, vocal ba-bas and ah-ahs, claps, synth, guitar, and a funky bass line. These elements, together with striking imagery of a very determined person who has acquired “shooting stars, fireworks, and neon lights” and “elephants and acrobats” to grab the attention of his beloved, make for an endearing, desperate, and romantic song. The words, “I just wanted to see you, my honey,” are incorporated after nearly every line in the verses and then turn into a chorus of sorts. Lundgren offers up everything he has (exaggerated or not) in what amounts to both a love letter and an invitation to come out and play.

“Always Spring” lays out a gorgeous piano line with subtle horns that carry the song’s confusion into a state of optimism. “Can See Miles” gets boring with its ‘don’t let them get to you’ credo. “Come On” follows with another upfront message—to let go and be free—but this track has more heart, which makes it work. The ode to a head doctor who is generous with his drugs, “Dr. Landy,” begins with disorientation but pharmaceutical remedies deliver in the end, inspiring hilarious lines of drug-induced nonsense. The final song and title track sums up the album’s theme of more joy and more understanding: “Do what you do and do it all the way / Go where you go, it’s gonna be okay.” In the case of Forever Today, more is more. A- | Alex Schreiber

RIYL: The Polyphonic Spree, Shout Out Louds, Architecture in Helsinki

           

 

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