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Barcelona

Absolutes

Review by Gary Hill

In a seeming sea of modern musical acts without talent and originality it’s refreshing to find a band that not only has created a powerful album (yeah, remember when it was all about the album and not the single?) but also stretches into musical territory that’s not simple to categorize. Such is Barcelona.

Too often these days it seems like one of two scenarios happen. Either you hear one song from a CD and fall in love with it only to find that everything else on the disc is completely unrelated and of nowhere near the quality of that single.  On the other end of the spectrum, it’s not uncommon to buy a disc based because you like the single and then find that everything else on there is essentially a carbon copy of that one track. Well, neither is the case here.

There is a certain consistency to the sound here to the point where every song feels like the same band. That said this group is no one trick pony by any means. They move between soaring neo-prog like music to more pop rock based jams that are quite catchy and moody ballad-type pieces. Every track is its own entity and none would ever be mistaken for the others. Nothing here is weak either. The group have their own musical identity, too. Sure, comparisons to other modern bands have some merit and certainly Radiohead comes the closest, but again, no one is likely to think this disc is by anyone other than Barcelona.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Falling Out Of Trees
Interestingly enough, the mode that starts this reminds me a lot of the more vocal and piano based modes of Yes.  This builds into a soaring and very powerful piece of music that has a lot of elements of modern Radiohead, but also seems to give a bit of a wink and a nod to old school progressive rock. It works through some intriguing changes and covers some wonderful territory before they finish out
It's About Time
This has more of a modern rock texture with less progressive rock in the midst. I can hear traces of bands like A Flock of Seagulls in this, but there is still some prog here and there in the arrangement. It’s definitely a more straightforward song than the opener, but it’s also quite cool. They still bring some killer overlayers in to make it a more complex and complete musical creation.

Stars
They rock out a bit harder here, but this is also more in keeping with modern progressive rock than some of the other material. Somehow I’m reminded a bit of modern Marillion or Porcupine Tree.
Lesser Things
If there’s a flaw in the argument to put this group under “progressive rock” this is it. This track is more along the lines of the pop rock created by groups like Jellyfish. It’s got some varying segments and sounds and is quite cool, but it’s probably not progressive rock, other than the one mellower segment of the track.
First Floor People
They turn it quite moody here. This balladic piece is more along the lines of Radiohead meets Porcupine Tree. It is powered up later with soaring layers of music and vocals to match. This later segment is extremely powerful. The vocal arrangement in particular is stunning.

Get Up, Get Up, Get Up
This feels like an extension of the previous number (that in grand progressive rock tradition). It’s even more moody and yet also more evocative and pretty. It’s essentially a keyboard oriented balladic piece.

Response
I can hear some of that Jellyfish influence here. This is a more rocking number, though and has some definite ties to modern neo-prog. It’s another good tune. The track rocks out pretty well as it carries on and is perhaps another argument for putting the disc in some place other than the progressive rock category.

Colors
There is one part of this song that makes me think of U2. Overall, though, I’m more inclined to consider this a more modern and progressive rock oriented version of A Flock of Seagulls.

You Will Pull Through
At almost seven and a half minutes in length this qualifies by many people’s time standards as a prog length number. It’s got a great arrangement. It begins as another moody keyboard based ballad and grows from there as it carries forward. They move it through some of the most purely progressive rock oriented music of the disc. This is the highlight of the album without question. It’s powerful and emotional and calls to mind Porcupine Tree and Marillion as well as Radiohead.

Numb
This one really reminds me a lot of Jellyfish. It’s bouncy and cool. They still manage to bring plenty of modern prog type influences to the table. It’s another great song on a disc that’s full of great music.

Please Don't Go
A piano based ballad, this is evocative and beautiful. Certainly Radiohead comes to mind here, but so does Porcupine Tree and modern Marillion – probably in equal measure. This is slow moving, but very powerful. I don’t normally advocate closing a CD on a mellow note, but somehow it works very well here.

 
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