When you’re dealing with 25 Texans in white robes, it’s pretty impossible not to mention you’re dealing with 25 Texans in white robes. While the freakish configuration of Tim DeLaughter’s “choral symphonic pop band” has made them one of this year’s most remarkable live spectacles, this album brings joyous proof that they’re not just a novelty outfit in novelty outfits. Rich in nature’s-own euphoria, ‘The Beginning Stages Of…’ is a shot of orchestral serotonin, a huge, humane record that could airlift the gloomiest soul from the Slough Of Despond. Never mind the cassocks, here’s The Polyphonic Spree…
While the sweet fighting men and drumstick-thin hipsters behind rock’n’roll’s recent wonders are an ongoing delight, it’s good to hear music at such odd odds with the prevailing aesthetic. The Polyphonic Spree have as much to do with cool as they do with making a profit through touring: their surge of instruments and voices is utterly unabashed, strings, flute, tablas and brass overwhelming all fashion’s checks and balances. If that’s not unruly enough, they’ve even admitted to being religious – wicked old rock’n’roll might stage the planet’s most fantastic freakshows, but that’s still considered [I]weird talk[/I].
Yet whatever your worldview, this music is divine.
In fact, so contagious is their enthusiasm, you could start thinking that black-clad nihilism has kept music to itself for way too long. Whether singing “Hey! It’s the sun! And it makes me shine!” over a glorious crash of bells and tambourines, making ‘Soldier Girl’ quiver with ethereal bliss or blue-skying through ‘Reach For The Sun’, the Spree undertake the most fabulous cosmic explorations this side of Wayne Coyne’s beard. And if positive vibes have you reaching for your Kalashnikov, here they’re enhanced by moments of profound melancholy. “Son, suicide is a shame,” sings DeLaughter on ‘It’s The Sun’ without sounding like a self-help freak, while the woodwind hush of ‘Days Like This Keep Me Warm’ heals the cynic like a hand on the forehead, further evidence God is just Brian Wilson sitting on a cloud. When they have their own TV channel, your credit card number and all your earthly goods, it might not seem so innocent. For now, though, the good news starts here.