The Polyphonic Spree
Together We're Heavy
T.J. Simon's #6 album for 2004
First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2004, Volume 11, #8
Written by John Metzger
The Polyphonic Spree’s sophomore effort Together We’re Heavy begins with a quiet hum only to erupt euphorically in a splendiferously surging orchestral pop explosion. To say that there is a greater depth and expansiveness to its latest album or that its arrangements are more intricately detailed and complex is most certainly an understatement. Then again, none of this is much of a surprise either given that the group’s debut The Beginning Stages of... was meant only to serve as a demo, one which was recorded in a mere three days. Together We’re Heavy, on the other hand, was three years in the making, and although band leader Tim DeLaughter utilizes the same basic blueprint as he did on The Beginning Stages of..., he colors his latest batch of songs with a vast array of symphonic flourishes that lends his material the type of esoteric clarity and subtle nuance that it deserves.
Indeed, many are comparing The Polyphonic Spree to the odder moments within the catalogues of Super Furry Animals, Spiritualized, Mercury Rev, and The Flaming Lips, but although those outfits undoubtedly have played an influential role within the ensemble’s evolution, such a current view seems strikingly out of touch with the scope of its inclinations. As a result, one must dig far deeper into the annals of rock history to comprehend fully The Polyphonic Spree’s true inspirations. Of course, the psychedelically attuned spirits of both The Beatles and The Beach Boys are present, but weighing just as heavily upon the group are the conceptual song cycles of The Who, Pink Floyd, The Moody Blues, Brian Eno, David Bowie, and, perhaps most notably, Peter Gabriel-led Genesis. Full of hippie platitudes and sweeping progressive rock, Together We’re Heavy overflows with infectious melodies fused with sprawling soundscapes that form a massively majestic magnum opus. There are moments when the collection threatens to slip into something whimsically self-indulgent, but The Polyphonic Spree’s chorus of choir-like vocals — the band absurdly boasts a line-up of 25 members — rises and falls around DeLaughter’s own annunciations, in essence holding everything together by congealing at all the right moments into a stunning display of uplifting gracefulness and beauty that is extraordinarily potent, powerful, and moving.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box