December 4, 2008

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I’m From Barcelona, Who Killed Harry Houdini
Mute Records, Oct. 14

One has to assume that there’s some sort of decorum that mandates indie writers be pleasant and gentle to shiny faced wannabes from non-threatening European countries, Sweden being the easily conquerable boondocks under scrutiny here. Why the Pitchfork writer would trip over his own slobbering tongue over an above-average Arcade Fire clone brings up questions, but the fact that IFB are said to be a spectacular live experience explains it – it’s the free tickets, stupid.

Bless their fishing-village hearts, though, enthusiasm is not going for want here. A more guarded cynic would Scrooge about how this 20-piece act is a living, singing monument to how great Arcade Fire is, but one needs to understand that immature obeisance can lead to real experimentation and can even, occasionally, pratfall into success. So tally-ho, then, to the hits and misses: “Paper Planes” is a very hooky song that makes great hay out of the hayloft-Broadway Arcade Fire sound, even if the misfit, nonsensical “Shake It Up”-like “Rufus” shows up later to prove that the band can be great at making bad decisions; “Andy” just sucks, while “Mingus” fully utilizes the whole cast. B-EWS