I'm From Barcelona
Let Me Introduce My Friends
Despite the name and the explanation song "We're From Barcelona," I'm From Barcelona are unquestionably Swedish. Riding on the crest of the wave created by Peter, Bjorn and John's "Young Folks" earlier this summer, this collective of 20-odd musicians and singers seem primed to capture at least some of their countrymen's accolades on this side of the Atlantic. This group's aesthetic won't disappoint those charmed by PB&J's breezy, winsome take on pop music. There's a kitchen-sink vibe that's been threading through a lot of Swedish pop and folk for a number of years that manifests itself throughout Let Me Introduce My Friends. There are banjos, glockenspiels, omnichords, melodicas and ukuleles (among other instruments) wafting freely from song to song, plying perfect melodies against each other. It's not breaking any new ground to be sure, but the sounds packaged by Emmanuel Lundgren and his backing band are more consistently solid on these 13 tracks than many Scandinavian releases this year.
It also doesn't hurt that the lyrics are charming and goofily Swedish. On "Treehouse" Lundgren crafts a touching invitation with the lines "I have built a treehouse/ Nobody can see us/ It's a you and me house." "Chicken Pox" features a melancholy refrain of "you can have it once you've had it" equating lost love with German measles and scarlet fever. "We're From Barcelona" laundry-lists all the countries the members of the band originate (though they're all Swedish) with such precision it brings to mind the Animaniacs' classic geography lesson. The song and the band name might be meant to indicate the universality of good pop music, but the reality is that Sweden continues to have most of the genre on lock-down.