The Polyphonic Spree – Together We’re Heavy

"There is something charismatic, a twinkle in the eye, in just about every track on the album,"


"There is something charismatic, a twinkle in the eye, in just about every track on the album,"


The Polyphonic Spree is an unusually large band. Animal rights activists count them at night instead of sheep and they have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. They have their own currency and if they were all to jump simultaneously, large parts of the southern United States would suffer severe earthquakes and flooding. They wear robes. If all their robes were tied together the resulting ‘rope-o’-robes’ would stretch from………………… ok, you get the picture.


Their common language is pop. Very big pop, as befits any 48 legged orchestral, happy, hippie, pop, love-in leviathan. Like a lost tribe they have an almost alien culture with a firm belief in music that, 35 years ago, would have been called progressive. They build great halls and temples, vast pyramids of sound. Huge, happy, hymns drift through manicured gardens and arbors.


They divide their time between reclining by idyllic, limpid streams, eating grapes, fresh from the vine and making calm and virtuous love, simply to feel the beauty of another human being.


Singer, songwriter and quite possibly High Priest, Tim Delaughter, is the man with the vision that keeps this utopian, cornucopia all flowing in the same direction. His doctrine of wide open landscapes filled with every instrument known to man sometimes creates long-winded appendices or intermissions to otherwise concise and catchy tracks. Despite this there is something charismatic, a twinkle in the eye, in just about every track on the album, like the joyful horned chorus of "Section 12 (Hold Me Now)".


The combinations of sounds delivered here in buckets are not generally found in the wide aisles of the pop superstore. Therein lies a problem, however. I love a theremin/violin/glockenspiel combo as much as the next man, but when the next track is awash with theremin, harp and xylophone and the next with flute, glockenspiel and French horn, and all this pasted over, under and between the fanfares and the 10 piece choir etc. etc. the overall effect is a deep swathe of songs that lose their individuality when listening to the album as whole.


Delaughter’s relentless cheerfulness and merciless, terminal optimism is as evident in his arrangements as his lyrics and depending on your own mood he can take you with him to Elysian Fields or leave you back in Evergrey Terrace with your fingers down your throat.


I admire "Together We’re Heavy" more than I like it. It his many good qualities that I think will probably get lost in the vastness of it all. They’ve got to be worth seeing live and if there’s a better dodecaquartet from Dallas, I’d like to hear them.



Words : Simon Reed