I’m From Barcelona – Who Killed Harry Houdini?
Did you have any idea that the Swedish supergroup I’m From Barcelona had another album hitting stateside? Don’t worry, no one really covered it, but sure enough, we now have Who Killed Harry Houdini?.
Opening tracks pretty much establish the mood for all albums, no matter what we say; that’s the job of the person who sequences the songs. “Andy,” the album opener showcases an entirely new aesthetic for the group, most noticeable is the absence of sprawling pop infectiousness. It’s quiet, almost as if it’s the choir score to a Tim Burton film. The artwork, along with the album title, hint at this darker underbelly.
Remnants of the last album do remain throughout this new effort. Many of the songs hold tightly to the choir backing vocals, a la Polyphonic Spree. Still available is the landscape sounds created by piling layers and layers of instrumentation and vocals upon one another. You can even find handclaps and shakers here and there. BUT, it’s missing a key ingredient!
SPIRIT! When that guy from Barcelona introduced me to all his friends on his last album I remember being really excited. Not only had a collective of musicians united to make zany-pop fueled extravagances, but they were good at it too! Songs like “We’re From Barcelona” or “Treehouse” oozed with pop sensibility, creating listening experiences even hippies could groove too. Here, it’s gone. It’s as if they put all that energy into the first album, and now they’ve run completely out of gas. Also, the level of horn work has been greatly diminished. It’s strange considering the frequent usage of the horns on the last effort. It’s just another thing that indicates an entirely different direction for the group.
This album isn’t an awful attempt; it actually has some redeeming moments, albeit slower moments. Unfortunately, they’ve gone so far the other way that it is difficult to find any correlation between this Who Killed Harry Houdini? and Let Me Introduce My Friends. One album is fully shimmering joy, the other lacks emotion; compare and contrast; go!