I'm from Barcelona

Forever Today

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

Sometime after the release of I’m from Barcelona's melancholy to the point of tears Who Killed Harry Houdini? album, life must have gotten better for the band’s leader, Emanuel Lundgren. Released in 2011, Forever Today restores the sunny disposition and breezily melodic attitude of their debut record, with only an occasional cloud looming overhead, but also a deeper emotional context and impact. Recorded live in two sessions, the record has a marvelously loose and unaffected sound as the huge band (22 members strong) fills in the tunes with horns, percussion, and group vocals. Lundgren has become a master of fitting the pieces together to make the ensemble sound both innocently intimate and impressively large when the occasion demands. His vocals, too, have become stronger and more expressive. With the sound and voices, the songs could be a little weak and the album would still make for nice background music on a warm summer day. They are quite strong, though, mostly leaping out of the speakers and straight into your memory bank. Starting off with the incredibly buoyant and summery "Charlie Parker," the album bursts to life like the first light of the morning shining through the blinds. The next couple songs also blind you with sunbeams. "Get in Line"’s bubbling dance beats and chanted chorus are incredibly sticky and light, and as for the barrelhouse piano and ba-ba-ba backing vocals of "Battleships" and the fragile hopes and tender bells of "Always Spring" -- they're almost too much, almost too joyous and pretty to handle. Lundgren’s heart isn’t on his sleeve; it’s on yours, beating away like crazy. The rest of the album barely lets up, with the heavenly pop hits coming one after the other. Between the nakedly honest vocals, the power of the massed voices, and the tenderness underlying the music and melodies, Forever Today is a perfect blend of the lighthearted joy of the debut record and the weary gloom of Houdini. Lundgren and crew may have lost some of the buzz they initially had when the band first started, but they’ve gained grace and emotional strength in return. That’s a pretty good trade, and for the fans who have stuck with them, it makes Forever Today their most satisfying record to date.

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