The Polyphonic Spree, ‘Yes, It’s True’ – Album Review
For such a huge f—ing band, the Polyphonic Spree make surprisingly disciplined music. The 10 tracks on ‘Yes, It’s True,’ the psych-pop ensemble’s fourth full-length, unfurl with a subtlety and tastefulness that defies their sprawling 21-person line-up. This is the band’s tightest, most focused batch of tunes to date, and they mostly avoid the bloated, over-orchestrated excess that occasionally plagued their early work.
Basically, even if they still look like a cult, they rarely play like one anymore.
That said, silliness still offsets their spectral sonics, and on the worst offender, ‘Popular By Design,’ the band wastes its glowing brass arrangement via eye-roll-inducing choral chants. But thanks to Spree leader Tim DeLaughter, the songs never collapse under their grandiose weight. Beneath the layers of woodwinds and fizzy electronics and reversed guitar solos are simple, cathartic hooks. The heartbeat is ‘Carefully Try,’ which uses its grandeur purposefully, expanding a strummable pop song into an orgiastic triumph.
As usual, the lyrics are a laughable mess. When DeLaughter isn’t tossing around lame self-help psych-isms like paper cups filled with suspicious Kool-Aid, he’s awkwardly preaching like a Christian camp counselor, railing against the evils of modern life. Sometimes, like on the glowing piano ballad ‘You’re Golden,’ he’s going for broke on both counts: ”It’s not the car that you drive / I’s not your phone with an ‘i,’” he sings. “It’s not your Facebook likes / It’s not your Instagram bride.” Yikes.
For rock bands, there’s a razor-thin line between psychedelic self-help kitsch and spiritual transcendence — and it’s a line these freaks are more than used to walking. But there’s something honorable about the Spree’s unwavering optimism, especially with melodies this sharp. It takes a certain level of bravery to keep reaching toward the heavens, and with ‘Yes, It’s True,’ they get there more often than not.