There's no shortage of musicians in the Arcade Fire-like I'm From Barcelona. With over two-dozen members (29 to be exact), the Emanuel Lundgren-led Swedish indie pop band crafts the kind of expansive sounds normally reserved for an entire philharmonic orchestra or an extremely soulful gospel choir.
Fresh off their critically acclaimed debut Let Me Introduce My Friends (2007), I'm From Barcelona follows it up with the obviously Houdini-inspired sophomore album Who Killed Harry Houdini?
Some might call Lundgren's interest in the famous escapologist an obsession. Others might call it simply a chance encounter with a lost kindred spirit. While time travel doesn't currently exist, it might have seemed that way to Lundgren when he caught his eye on The Secret Life Of Harry Houdini at an airport bookstore and instantly remembered his former life as a magician and connection to the world-renowned magician.
The memories, the thrill, and the ability to disappear all came rushing back. However, the closest Lundgren would get to Houdini's world again is through music. The latest LP serves as an ode to the popular vanishing act with a dose of the infectious melodic pop that I'm From Barcelona is best known for.
The choral anthems and the sing-along cues are all included and are dominant during the album's opening tracks. The oddly melodramatic "Andy" starts off with a surrounding aura of reluctance and slight misery, although nothing being too mopey to not at least hum to. "Paper Planes" follows with the ease of travelling to a far off land like only a childhood's imagination can do. It should be clear how "Headphones" works and rightfully would fit on a soundtrack to a quirky Michel Gondry film.
There's a more serious tone (albeit in sort of opposite tones) toward the halfway mark with the quasi-melancholy "Music Killed Me" ("Wait 'til tomorrow if you have to kill me dear / Wait 'til tomorrow 'cause I like it down here") and the lover's lament ballad "Gunhild" ("It's only water in your eyes / It's only words out of my mouth / It's only me out here tonight / And it's only you I want to find").
"Houdini" tries to provide a little pick-me-up. But it's too late to inject a little classic Barcelona late into the album, especially with the down tempo "Little Ghost" setting up the finale that happens to be the chaotic and weird "Rufus." The album's themes were ambitious, but don't flow well throughout the brisk 36-minute runtime. I'm From Barcelona supplies enough melody to keep Who Killed Harry Houdini? playing, but it's just not that fun.