The Polyphonic Spree
Together We’re Heavy
Okay, I admit it. Thus far I’ve been unwilling to drink the Kool Aid. There’s just something inherently creepy though about two-dozen people in robes singing orchestrated pop songs with hippy dippy, feel good lyrics. But dammit if that “Hold Me Now” song isn’t one of the catchiest tunes I’ve heard this year, with its bouncy piano and booming, horn-drenched chorus. That was enough to convince me to give the Spree’s sophomore effort a spin.
Unfortunately, the rest of Together We’re Heavy is more of a mixed bag. Many of the tracks are extended suites, like they belong on a Yes album from the ’70’s. Three stretch beyond eight minutes. There are plenty more horns and rising childlike voices, not to mention harps, rock guitar and theremin. But the songs often feel padded and aimless as they detour into droning midsections and orchestral noodling.
This Dallas symphonic pop group is the brainchild of ex-Tripping Daisy Tim DeLaughter, who sings lead vocals in a thin, occasionally bleating voice that owes a great debt to Wayne Coyne of Flaming Lips. DeLaughter’s lyrics are unfailingly positive and life affirming. They are also saccharine, phony and repetitive. “You gotta be good / You gotta be strong / You gotta be two thousand places at once,” he sings on one song. For all the efforts to impress with musical cleverness, these songs don’t have a brain in their pretty little heads. “Good day tonight cause everybody feels alright / Good times will start for you / I think it was the Fourth of July,” the Spree sing on “Everything Starts At the Seam.”
The Spree’s approach reaches its climax on the ten and a half minute “When the Fool Becomes A King,” which tries to string together way too many ideas, including a reprise of the first album’s “It’s the Sun.”
Ultimately, all this sunny-ness really starts to grate on the nerves and give you a severe toothache after awhile. Its vapid excesses leave me strangely cold. Despite some interesting ear candy here and there, Together We’re Heavy makes The Polyphonic Spree sound like a clever gimmick that’s already wearing thin.
The Polyphonic Spree: www.thepolyphonicspree.com