I’m From Barcelona is known both for being the biggest band in Sweden (currently 27 members) and for the convivial, bacchanalian, whatever other words mean “clusterfuck-of-awesome” atmosphere of their live shows. Which is why it makes sense that the band made the conscious decision to record the entirety of their third album, Forever Today, live in studio, all 27 bushy-tailed members playing and singing happily in Scandinavian harmony.
The album was recorded over two sessions, the first a five-day sit-in that involved the whole crew living, eating and recording together in Gothenburg. To finish the album, frontman and founder Emanuel Lundgren led them on a soul-searching pilgrimage by the sea in Vargerg. Regardless of what final-touch effect their second sojourn had on the album, you can feel the energy of the first session throughout. It’s the scattered, ambitious energy of twenty-somethings, when everything seems possible and even though you don’t know where you’re going or what you want when you get there, you feel compelled to run the whole way.
The party gets going from the first beat of the opening track, “Charlie Parker,” a quick-moving mix of sparkly refrains, bubbly instrumentation and what sounds like a good chunk of the near 30 members singing in choral unison. The album slips a little on the second song, “Get in Line,” which although it’s the first single, doesn’t quite fit with the rest. If you think of the record as a concept, you could rationalize it, but outside an imagined context, it’s an outlier. Track three, “Battleships,” gets back on track, taking its cues from the first song and setting the tone for the rest of what’s to come. A mantra as much as a song, it invites the listener to join their cult of pop, and its central conceit, “We’ve got everything you ever wanted here tonight” is tough to argue with.
It’s hard to get into too much detail about one track over another as the whole thing plays like one long anthem, the score to an indie-pop opera. As you’re listening it seems natural to imagine the story of a Swedish boy trying to find his way in Gothenburg amidst a sunny collective of singing, dancing, reveling friends all searching for meaning between shifts at Sweden’s most musical self-assembled furniture store. And as the record comes to a close it has the distinct feel of the beginning of something instead of the end. During the final and title track, “Forever Today,” it’s as though the whole cast comes on stage together. It’s the beginning of the next chapter they’ve spent the last so many songs preparing you for more than it is the end of the story you’ve just heard.