Release Date: Aug 6, 2013
Record label: Kirtland Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Pop, Neo-Psychedelia
While artists have been making albums for their fans for years, the recent advent of crowdfunding now finds artists in a position to make an album because of their fans, a move that seems only natural for cult-like psychedelic symphonic rock collective the Polyphonic Spree, who reached out to their fans to help fund their fourth album, Yes, It's True. While the album shows plenty of the band's trademark ebullience, it's tempered with a feeling of heaviness that feels different from their other work. A lot of this feeling comes by way of the album's percussion work, which often has a propulsive, almost marching quality to it.
The Beginning Stages of…, the debut album from Dallas, Texas orchestral psych poppers The Polyphonic Spree is not as remembered now as it should be. Lest we forget, it’s an indie classic that holds up on a historical level in its own right, being the unmistakable twee-inspired sound of 2002. Yet, in 2013, with the Kickstarter-funded Yes, It’s True, the band has released another record that fits in with its output since that debut: never living up to its heights but still being worthy all the same.
Despite resembling members of a suicide cult, robe-wearing happiness addicts The Polyphonic Spree are very much alive in 2013, 11 years after they were the oddest hype band on Earth. As ever, their relentless chirpiness can grate, but the orchestral indulgence has been pared back, giving ringleader Tim DeLaughter’s songwriting room to breathe. The results are closer than ever to The Flaming Lips’ poppiest cuts – and with tunes as strong as ‘You Don’t Know Me’ and ‘Carefully Try’, you wonder whether, if it wasn’t for the Jesus garb, DeLaughter would have reached Wayne Coyne-style cult-icon status by now.Jamie Fullerton .
Returning in exuberant form with their first original material for almost six years, Yes, It's True sees Tim Delaughter's expansive Dallas pop collective attempt to take in a broader sonic scope. A tendency to lean more heavily than before on grand theatricality—possibly a hangover from their recent reworking of The Rocky Horror Picture Show—only accentuates the boundless optimism of their uplifting sun-dappled pop. When it works well, as it does on "Carefully Try" or "Your Golden," they create musical vignettes that tread the line between bittersweet and upbeat.
The Polyphonic Spree has always been the little indie engine that couldn't quite. They were Arcade Fire before it was profitable to be. Since 2002, Tim DeLaughter and company have been farming an ever-smaller and more fallow plot of indie dirt, found somewhere at the intersection of the Flaming Lips and Jonestown. Although DeLaughter and his band haven't suffered the grotesque fate of Jim Jones's ill-fated colony, they haven't enjoyed anywhere near the success of the former either.
It's been over a decade since Tim Delaughter conceived the confetti cannon to the face that is The Polyphonic Spree. When they first appeared, the faux-cult robes, twee harmonies and feisty horns of his self-styled 'choral symphonic pop/rock band' were an exuberant antidote to dour indie posturing, but after three albums of colourful - and occasionally overbearing - music, they went into hibernation. The intervening six years has seen them undertake somewhat erratic work, including an extensive tour, a Christmas album, a live recording of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and a brief hiatus, where Delaughter splintered off into subdued side-project Preteen Zenith.
More than any Polyphonic Spree album preceding it, Yes, It’s True is characterized by time. Tim DeLaughter’s band was last seen in 2007 with a big-heated, politically tardy album called The Fragile Army, but all he has to show for the six years in between is a hatred of 2013. He spends his time preaching his way out of the now, bundling together reality and fantasy in an attempt to switch them over.
Just over a decade ago Tim DeLaughter and his band of robed funsters appeared on our stages looking like a bunch of wide-eyed escapees from a particularly effective Prozac testing programme. On stage, their brand of uplifting, group singalong indie-pop was a life-affirming antidote to much of the drab, self-occupied rock of the time. Perhaps their brand of manic positive energy is exactly what’s needed in these doom-laden times… It’s puzzling, then, that Yes, It’s True starts out along a rather pedestrian path of nod-along rock-by-numbers.
The Polyphonic Spree’s fourth studio record is called Yes, It’s True, but I’m not quite sure that they believe in it. At the end of track four, a canned radio voice interrupts the Dallas ensemble’s symphonic bombast: ”Ah, yes. The sounds of the ’70s from The Polyphonic Spree.” For a moment, the album acknowledges its own referentiality to ’70s psych-rock and its later revivals, but the admission never ties into any larger point.
I am a man alone on an island, surrounded by thirty dancing loons in multicoloured robes. Stranded in isolation, I scream to the sand, the sea and the palm trees that The Polyphonic Spree’s 2004 album Together We’re Heavy is a maximalist masterpiece of pop music. Its multi-part suites of Broadway classicism and sprawling psychedelics lived up to its title, and then some – precisely the kind of thing that a band of the Spree’s sheer size and scope was born to create.
The Polyphonic Spree Yes, It's True (Good Records) Thirteen years have flown since the Polyphonic Spree touched off its confetti cannon into the cultural consciousness. A thousand soiled robes later, Dallas' symphonic pop choir unveils its fifth full-length, Yes, It's True, an inconsistent collection of life-affirming pop that lurches uncomfortably like a 50-year-old twerking at a bar mitzvah. All the characteristics of a Spree disc remain, including blatting brass notes ("Popular By Design"), and a funky homage to David Bowie, the band's champion and mentor ("Heart Talk").