E. A Solinas | MD USA | 07/13/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Maybe they should have called it "The Middle Stages Of...," since this CD literally picks up where the last one left off. Feel-good band Polyphonic Spree are in fine form on their sophomore CD, "Together We're Heavy" -- it presents pretty much the same sound as in their debut, but more relaxed, polished and panoramic than before. A chorus of very faint voices and a harp explode into an orchestral psychedelic roar. And that's just the first minute of the rippling opener "Section 11 (A Long Day Continues/We Sound Amazed)." They're on more solid footing with the guiltily upbeat "Section 12 (Hold Me Now)," the quivery poppy ballad "Section 13 (Diamonds/Mild Devotion To Majesty)" and the string-laden "Section 15 (Ensure Your Reservation)." The Polyphonic Spree manage to expand their horizons a little with the startlingly catchy "Section 14 (Two Thousand Places)" and the bouncy "Section 18 (Everything Starts At The Seam)." The climax of it all is "Section 19 (When The Fool Becomes A King)," a sprawling 10-minute epic that barely avoids being bloated by constantly changing song styles. Together We're Heavy proves the old saying about how if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The Polyphonic Spree won their fans with their psychedelic feel-good pop, not to mention songs about how the "trees wanna grow," and assuring you that the world is a nice place and that "everything... will be fine." Here, they stick with that formula -- they just smooth out the sound and make the music a bit richer and deeper.The saggiest point would be the opener, which overstays its welcome by about three minutes. But after that, things even out nicely. The instrumentation has a lushness and richness that is rarely seen in most music -- lots of piano, the occasional guitar, swollen strings, ghostly synth, some harp and, of course, lots of horns. Even if the don't-worry-be-happy songwriting is too sugary for you, the panoramic sweeps of swirling melody will keep you happy.The feel-good lyrics are still EXTREMELY simple, somewhere between a complex lullaby and a simple pop song. Not to mention perky. "Stranger to the sun/you see the light!" the chorus announces over and over in the penultimate song. But they do expand on their songwriting, as they do in the more melancholy story-song "Section 16 (One Man Show)."The Polyphonic Spree refine and reflect on "Together We're Heavy," but don't lose the swirling orchestral medleys and upbeat tone that make people like them. Fun and upbeat."
We are all kings tonight
alexander laurence | Los Angeles, CA | 07/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of the records that I have been waiting for this year. The first Polyphonic Spree album was actually a demo tape done mostly by Tim DeLaughter done in a week. Due to immediate success at some festivals and in the UK, they forced to release an album. The Beginning Stages was re-released last year with some tracks recorded in the studios of KCRW. They also included the "Soldier Girl" single. This was the first sign of what they could do in the studios sonically. The Spree is impressive in concert alone because of their numbers. Also I think the first album lacked powerful subject matter. Most of the tunes seemed to be about the sun, the sky, and the days. It was very positive and generally vague. The first sign of their greatest is on the tune "Two Thousand Places." With the help of Eric Drew Feldman, they have brought the magic of the live show into the studio. One effect they use is longer length in songs. Even the longest "When The Fool Becomes A King" has four different parts. DeLaughter employs montage and motifs musically. It all comes together and it is heavy, man."