David Bowie

The Polyphonic Spree

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 August, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 August, 2004, 12:00am


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The Polyphonic Spree

Together We're Heavy

(Hollywood Records)

How 25 people stuck on the road together in multicoloured frocks can remain so gloriously upbeat is anyone's guess. But then anyone called Tim DeLaughter ought to live up to their namesake.

Picking up from where the 10 tracks of their technicolour debut The Beginning Stages Of ... left off, this begins with the eight-and-a-half minute Section 11, before segueing together with nine others. The music wafts out of the speakers, an irrepressible aural Prozac that some may find a little too euphoric. Yet, despite the fact that most tracks clock in at about five minutes, the Spree manage to keep it cohesive. Rarely is your attention lost.

On paper, the combination of choir, harp, strings, Theremin and electric guitar ought to conjure up a nightmare Andrew Lloyd Webber scenario - yet the Spree somehow pull it off. You'd never really have imagined yourself nodding along to a cult of orchestral Texans, but with that many bandmates, you can at least attest that they're not in it for the money.

David Bowie was inspired enough to haul them along on his recent tour of the US and Canada, and as repeated listening reveals, there's a certain symmetry to that - the Spree at times could pass for the disciples of Ziggy Stardust. There's more than the odd echo of his music here.

Perhaps too giddy for some tastes, the cheeriness never fades, but it does begin to grate on 10-minute opus When the Fool Becomes a King. Surely they can't be this happy all the time?