Seattle band Barcelona just released some very ’80s tracks, and I’m not quite sure how I feel about them.
You see, I remember the Barcelona of three or four years ago, the one with stunning melodies and lyrics in songs like “Falling Out Of Trees,” the first track off the 2009 album Absolutes. “Falling Out Of Trees” showcased layered instrumentation with melody-mirroring electric piano and intricate drum beats on top of building electric guitar. The song also broke into various parts with changing time signatures, sound, and overall feeling, culminating in a very emotional ending. You could almost say their first album had a bit of a progressive side to it.
And though I don’t love the vocal production on Barcelona’s second album Not Quite Yours from 2012, I still dig the variety in the songs, as far as instrumentation, beats, and lyrics.
In 2013, Barcelona released three singles, “Background,” “Sick,” and “Paper Lion” from the EP Love Me, which dropped on January 26. Love Me is part one in a three-part series of EPs called The Melodrama. The next two, Love You and Know Love, will come out mid-February and March, respectively.
“Paper Lion,” the last track off of Love Me and the most recent single, sounds like a song right off an ’80s movie soundtrack or an episode on a “dark” teen show, creepy lyrics and a bump in reverb included. “Background” and “Sick” aren’t much different, with fast beats, drippy synthesizer, poorly produced drums, and very over-dubbed vocals offering stories of less-than-honorable love encounters.
It’s not that I don’t like ’80s music, throwback songs, or reverb. I do. I just can’t help but think that Barcelona might be pandering to the reverb-saturated, poppy, overly dramatic tunes so often used in television shows like Gossip Girl, since they have indeed been played on similar shows.
I respect any band’s attempt to gain national and international airplay, hoping to keep fans and potential customers happy for years to come. But I believe there’s a word for the moment one begins to create based on the trends of consumerism: sellout.
I guess I’ll have to wait to see what the next two EPs bring before making a final judgment, but I can’t say I’m hopeful. The Melodrama might be the perfect title for this three-EP series, don’t you think?
Read Adrienne’s thoughts on the other EPs in the series: