Music Review – I’m From Barcelona, Who Killed Harry Houdini
With the release of their sophomore album Who Killed Harry Houdini?, the many members of I’m From Barcelona have cast aside the elated revelry of childhood for an insightful look at adult life. The shift is apparent right away, for while 2006’s Let Me Introduce My Friends was an invitation to come along on a delighted celebration of life’s smaller joys (treehouses, stamp collecting), Who Killed Harry Houdini? suggests the murdering of childlike wonder. Here our pals have traded euphoria for reflection, as the equally catchy tracks ponder the transition into adulthood we all must face. Where the group’s large cast of members once lent a sing-along glee to past recordings, Houdini boasts a stoic choir, one that both conveys the mood of these new songs and proves the band can excel at more than one genre.
The first single, “Music Killed Me,” marks a shift toward a heavier, messier mixing technique that successfully establishes the disc’s more mature themes. Gone is the straightforward bliss, and in turn we get swirling electronics and dark piano chords that ask listeners to ponder rather than play. The “you done me wrong” meets guitar-rock track Houdini represents an even more striking stylistic move, especially with its ‘80s riffs and the screeching declaration “You’re like a demon!” that would impress even the members of Tenacious D. “Mingus” sounds like classic IFB with its bright guitar and happy claps, while sticking to the new focus as it starkly considers adulthood even as sprightly vocals dance in the background. No longer a band you’d listen to simply for cheerful escape, I’m From Barcelona has skillfully explored new ground, all while retaining the eclectic richness brought by having many talents contribute to one whole.
By Liz Levine