The Polyphonic Spree 

The Fragile Army (TVT Records)

Whatever Tim DeLaughter and his umpteen followers/bandmates in the Polyphonic Spree are trying to prove with their regrettable experiment in latter-day hippiedom, they should just have out with it already. On The Fragile Army, their third album, the whole band-as-joyous-cult shtick is wearing awfully thin (if it hadn’t already). To be fair, DeLaughter has a nice way with a hook — ‘Running Away’ and ‘Get Up and Go’, which open the album, are all kinds of catchy — but the band smothers track after track with overblown, monotonous orchestration. Choir fatigue sets in around the third or fourth song; by the end, all the strings and horns and harps and cheery backup singers are downright suffocating. Emotionally, the band’s range is just as narrow: good vibes all the way through, without any of the sense of struggle or vulnerability that might make all the earnestly trumpeted redemption at least a little bit convincing. As a wise man once said, less is more, and wearing robes won’t make your stupid indie-rock band any better.


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