The Polyphonic Spree are a 20-plus-member orchestral-pop outfit whose Together We’re Heavy swabs Day-Glo flair on cosmic pooh. Brassy polish masks positivity without faith, Hair without Treat Williams. Hippie emeritus Tim DeLaughter, with his mess of robed singers and his tenor in full whine, breaks the news that trees just want to grow, everyone wants love (but not with diamonds), and everyone gets lonely. Every word’s ’60s-infused, like no duh. DeLaughter, cramming peace, love, and understanding into every goddamn note, preaches to the choir—literally—in non sequiturs.
DeLaughter’s arrangements are another story, though: Tin Pan Alley, Broadway, and Abbey Road course through ethereal meditative spaces, and pianistic sun-drenched parlor reverie, loose beats of righteous distinction, opulent squalls, and immense walls of sound that announce themselves like planets in your backyard. Horn explosions evoke King Louis’s court; two dozen people singing in unison, St. Paul’s on Sunday; glockenspiel, the Allderdice High School Marching Band.
In terms of sheer size, Together We’re Heavy is up there with mountains and the Dalai Lama’s cricket love. The Beginning Stages Of . . . , the band’s 2000 debut that was recorded in two days and has been re-re-re-released since, is ho-hum by comparison. Seeing themselves in the Big Dipper alongside the Flaming Lips and Beck, Polyphonic got Together with producer Eric Drew Feldman, one in a long line of industrious space cadets, and took a year to record. The result? One bottom-heavy, “ba-da-da”-backed D&D battle cry (“Suitcase Calling”). One jaunt down “Penny Lane” (“Everything Starts at the Seam”). And one piece of memorable music, the intro to “A Long Day Continues/We Sound Amazed,” in which a single-note horn blast on the ascent is repeatedly chopped off at the top by faint guitar clang. Everything on Together approaches the ideal to which Polyphonic have clung since their early days four years ago in Dallas: grandiloquent, glorious gobbledygook.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 27, 2004