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(they aren't really from Barcelona)


The days are getting longer, spring is supposedly around the corner; the month is short, but February is the doldrums. It's okay, I'm From Barcelona is here to transport you to the sun-drenched confines of a homemade tree house with their first full-length album, Let Me Introduce My Friends.

Whimsical, ecstatic, over-the-top choruses--there are 29 members in this Swedish band--make this the ultimate upbeat sing-along album. Let Me Introduce My Friends is a blissful 40 minutes of playful delight.

Yes, this is a twee album. The lyrics are naive and conjure up cliche after cliche of childhood. The chorus to track 9, "This Boy," is "There's always gonna be this little boy inside of me. And there's always gonna be this little girl inside of me." There are songs titled "Treehouse," "Collection of Stamps," and "Chicken Pox." Using the D.I.Y. ethic, the album was recorded all over the place, rather than in a studio. The music is ecstatic and bubble gum and never sad. The orchestration includes kazoo, ukulele, accordion, whistling, tambourine, horns, keyboards, banjo, and lots of clapping sounds.

There is something more at play than plain twee though, thanks to Emanuel Lundgren's thoughtful leadership. In an interview he gave to Lunapark6 he discusses his love of Sparklehorse, Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell, the Beatles, and Prince. He also mentions that prior to forming I'm From Barcelona he played much more melancholy music. That foundation is apparent in these smartly crafted pop gems, which layer jangly 1960s-tinged hooks with a touch 1980s synth pop.

Lundgren started the band in 2005 because he wanted to combine his two favorite things--hanging out with friends and playing music. Rather than a big oozing jam fest though, the end product of Let Me Introduce My Friends is compact, precise, and tight.

And for some reason this explains a lot: the name of the band is an allusion British humor TV show Fawlty Towers. Lundgren admits he's never even been to Spain.
• Katy Henriksen

Emanuel Lundgren and the gang

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