“Together We’re Heavy”
The Polyphonic Spree
The Polyphonic Spree’s “Together We’re Heavy” is perhaps one of the most ambitious and interesting albums of the year. Categorizing the band and their sound is a nearly impossible task, the music they play is a cross of gospel, choir, pop and symphonic – resulting in a sound not heard since the 60s and 70s.
“Together We’re Heavy” is the band’s second CD, but their first big label release. Lead by frontman Tim DeLaughter, the band’s songs are happy and simple: They are not trying to be clever or sarcastic. Instead, the lyrics are meant to be taken literally, making the listening experience easier and more enjoyable.
Tracks can be taken and listened to individually, like the band’s single “Hold Me Now” – no relation to the Thompson Twins – which received some radio attention and was performed by the band at MTV’s Video Music Awards. However, the best way to experience the songs is to listen to the album as a whole. It is a concept album, the kind of album that The Who and Pink Floyd made years ago: the sort of album meant to listen to in one sitting. The songs flow together and listening to the CD as a whole greatly increases the pleasure of the band’s work.
If you are a fan of low-key music, this may not be the album for you, as every song features a full 20-person choir singing together over the powerful chords of a grand piano with a multitude of horns playing in unison. The effect of this is both powerful and grand – sometimes border-lining on ridiculous and over-the-top, but the band is able to keep their music close enough to the ground.
Most songs start with a minute or more instrumental before DeLaughter enters. After his solo, a full choir joins for a buildup to a crescendo; The song hits an instrumental lull, and then builds up again with full choir for the ending. These songs aren’t as over-the-top as Meatloaf, but a few come pretty damn close.
The average track length on the album is around six minutes, with “When the Fool Becomes a King” clocking in at a whopping 10:38. However, with all the ups and downs of each song, they don’t drag. Each song could easily be broken into more than one song, with strikingly different segments and sounds.
Sure, the CD can sound a bit pretentious at times, but for 90 percent of the album, the sound and energy work and the band is able to pull off the full choir sound. In a day and age when Linkin Park and Incubus rule the airwaves, it’s nice to hear something with a both lighter message and sound. The band’s carefree sound is the opposite of the angst and despair of such bands. The Polyphonic Spree’s music will never be chart-topping – but it’s definitely worth a listen.