The Polyphonic Spree: Tim DeLaughter (vocals, guitar, whistle, piano, organ, tubular bells, sampler); Julie Duncanville, Jennifer Jobe, Jessica Jordan, Jennie Kelley (vocals); Ryan Fitzgerald (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo, background vocals); Ricky Rasura (harp); Rick Nelson (violin, viola, bass instrument); Audrey Easley (flute, piccolo, whistle); Logan Keese (trumpet, flugelhorn, background vocals); Jessie Hester (piano, background vocals); Evan Hisey (organ, synthesizer); Mark Pirro (bass instrument); Toby Halbrook (Theremin).
Everything about the Polyphonic Spree is voluminous and unique. Featuring 20-some members, including a theremin player, a flautist, a French horn player, a full choir, and an electronic soundscaper, among others, the band performs dressed in flowing, white robes, heightening its image as a spiritually oriented "family." Among the Spree's influences are the lush studio innovations of Brian Wilson, Paul McCartney/George Martin-esque symphonic pop, and sunny indie acts like Apples in Stereo and the Flaming Lips. The result is a noise that is majestic, infectious, and downright inspiring.
The track list on the band's debut is labeled "Sections 1-10," and TOGETHER WE'RE HEAVY picks up where THE BEGINNING STAGES OF... left off by featuring "Sections 11-20" (leading to the conclusion that the Spree's entire output will be one gigantic symphonic suite). In its highly melodic, hook-filled songwriting--equal parts dreamy 1960s pop, postmodern pastiche, and earnest, gospel-derived paeans--and epic arrangements (the collective's sheer volume is mightily impressive), the Polyphonic Spree stirs the soul. For a complete experience, check out the bonus DVD of live footage that accompanies the disc.
Rolling Stone (p.128) - 3 stars out of 5 - "The gorgeous shape-shifting songs allow the diversity of the Spree's instrumentation, from strings to brass to theremin, to shine."
Q (p.116) - 4 stars out of 5 - "TOGETHER WE'RE HEAVY's transcendent qualities grow as it flows onward, and the sheer musical ambition of the Spree's pet sound finally, really defies cynicism."
CMJ (p.39) - "[E]xuberant and bombastic....A feel-good kind of album."
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