Polyphonic Spree : London Camden Barfly

We defy you not to fall under their influence

The summer camps of America must be in crisis. All their smiley, wholesome youth leaders are here at the Barfly, wearing white robes, playing French horns and pogo-ing. There are 23 of Dallas, Texas’ Polyphonic Spree on this tiny stage, frugging away with frankly unnerving euphoria, plus assorted keyboards, guitars, brass, theremin and kettle drums. They are like something The Flaming Lips made up as an experiment. They are terrific.

Led by a lanky, rosy-cheeked man called Tim DeLaughter, the Spree make soaring, multi-layered, ’60s choral emo oompah music whose volume hits you in the chest with actual physical force. In terms of sheer numbers and payload of instruments, their closest peers are Godspeed You Black Emperor!! But gloom finds no quarter in the Polyphonic mass mind. Their tunes are happy. They are clappy. Songs like ‘Sun’ or forthcoming single, ‘Soldier Girl’ are about Nice Things like the sun. Being strong. Calling your dad. They might be deeply religious, but God is never mentioned by name. Beyond the cassocks ‘n’ joviality, though, DeLaughter’s tunes are deeply joyous, surging things, recalling early Mercury Rev. We defy you not to fall under their influence.

Kitty Empire