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Melodrama: The New Sound of Seattle Band Barcelona?

Posted by February 12th, 2014 3 Comments »

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?

In addition to contributing to, Adrienne writes about shows, bands and music on her blog, Reaching Notoriety.

Read Adrienne’s thoughts on the other EPs in the series: 


3 thoughts on “Melodrama: The New Sound of Seattle Band Barcelona?

  1. Seab says:

    I agree 100%! Loved the first album, liked the second (agree with the comment on the vocal production). Psyched for the new stuff (what’s up with releasing 4 EPs???) but hate the sound. Sellout was the first thing that popped into my mind. I don’t blame them, but I’m finding very little worth listening to on these EPs. I probably would have been far less critical if I wasn’t comparing it to Barcelona’s first two efforts. Disappointing. 🙁

  2. Jeff smith says:

    The new eps show much better vocal depth and are more moving.
    Don’t tell me progressive music hasn’t bee oversaturated.

  3. Jenny says:

    I’m sorry, but you are being ridiculous by claiming that Barcelona now caters to “our oversexed, gossip-ridden tweens.” To be honest, I never heard of the band until Melodrama EPs came out, and you know what, I loved it! What Barcelona did was take a risky jump into the music of our future. If they continued to strum their guitars and mutter vague but somehow meaningful lyrics, they would have disappeared into the abyss of the typical indie folksy rock band. Sorry but it’s true. And as much as you loved that, the purpose of an artist is to constantly grow and develop, test their boundaries and reach their utmost potential. Calling their EPs overproduced and repetitive forgoes what I personally heard, raw and jagged musicality. If you’ve delved into people like SBTRKT, this is what now has a more profound effect to the ears, especially given the theme of love and all that it encompasses. This time, Barcelona focused on the music and let the lyrics aid the hearing experience. I found Melodrama crazy emotional and it’s landed a spot in my top 5 favorite albums just because each detail is so perfectly executed. As a reviewer, you’ve got to look past bias and understand an artist on his own. Everyone can’t be pleased, so the artist will do what will fulfill themselves. These guys made the EPs on their own for God’s sake, so don’t act as if they sold out. Ahh I don’t know where I going with this now but you get the gist of my argument.

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