The Fragile Army is The Polyphonic Spree’s soundtrack to imminent Armageddon. You know the shit’s about to hit the fan when the 24-member Dallas armada ditches its Technicolor robes for black-and-red military gear.
Of course, a wardrobe change was necessary for an audacious new sound that combines arena rock and glam with trademark Spree harmonies. Throw in some sound effects, like the typewriter tapping on the title track and troops marching in stride on “Younger Yesterday,” and you have an epic theatrical production without a stage, like Jesus Christ Superstar without the crucifixion or All That Jazz without the sex. But it works thanks to frontman Tim DeLaughter’s concept-album vision and the charisma of his supporting cast. Hell, if the crescendo on “Get Up and Go” doesn’t rally you when the entire roaring clan asks whether or not you’re a solider, then your system needs a squirt of kerosene.
The Spree’s first two albums, 2003’s overrated The Beginning Stages of . . . and the following year’s underachieving Together We’re Heavy, were both all sunshine and smiles. The Fragile Army actually has substance—thematically, musically, and lyrically. And chances are, if you listen to it long enough and hard enough, it will transform into a call to arms. Will you have what it takes to join the light brigade?
The Polyphonic Spree play Warsaw July 1, warsawconcerts.com