I'm From Barcelona head a little more into orchestral choral territory on their latest, Who Killed Harry Houdini?. Emanuel Lundgren goes a little more orchestral, and little less ‘sing-along with his friends’ on the latest I’m From Barcelona record. The giant, sprawling Jönköping, Sweden collective were first introduced in 2006 with Let Me Introduce My Friends, though made their name on the backs of wild, electric shows, featuring everything from confetti launchers to costumes. Lead by Lundgren, Who Killed Harry Houdini? is a bit less informal than Friends, but still explodes with grandness.
The orchestral grand can be heard right from the get-go with “Andy”, but its sad, even torch song-like nature introduces I’m From Barcelona’s more somber side (and works better than that description might read). The band mixes more stripped fare throughout Houdini, often relying more on vocals, whether choral like with (the also slightly-indietronic) “Music Killed Me”, or solo/duet like on “Gunhild” (with French singer Soko). These naturally tend to be the more structured numbers, including the strings-based “Headphones” and the haunting “Little Ghost”.
It’s really with the second track, single “Paper Planes”, that I’m From Barcelona reaches for the band’s fun atmosphere, bright and catchy. While the sadder songs certainly play pretty and nice, they still can’t quite match the enjoyability of the more upbeat pieces. “Mingus” has an uplift swing that’s life affirming, while “Houdini” is a bopping chunk of swing-rock.
These two strains of Who Killed Harry Houdini? merge on the extended (seven-plus minutes) closer, “Rufus”, which is really two songs put together: a group-rock sing-along and a darker drive that grows into a grand choral orchestra. And while “Rufus” is a little too much of a mash-up, Houdini as a whole marries those sides well, thanks to Lundgren’s grand ideals.