May 9, 2007


The Clouds Poke Through the Sun (BRET MCCABE, May 9, 2007, NY Sun)

Indie rock's most incorrigibly happy band may have finally found something to frown about. When the 20-plus-member rock orchestra and choir the Polyphonic Spree invades the Manhattan Center's Grand Ballroom on Friday, gone will be the members' trademark flowing gospel robes and the band's defiantly upbeat musical sunshine, which owes as much to "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "The Electric Company" as it does to ELO, Wings, and the Beach Boys. In their place will be new uniforms — Chinese Cultural Revolution-like plain black work suits and a sound no less symphonic but decidedly less saccharine.

An eight-minute mash-up teaser of the band's latest album, "The Fragile Army," due June 19, reveals a band possibly embracing the underbelly and cracks in its perpetual glee. If so, it's exactly what the Polyphonic Spree needs to do right now. [...]

The Spree's biggest problem was that the world wasn't the same as it was when "The Beginning Stages" was recorded in 2000. Only the pharmaceutically maintained and delusional can hold a bulletproof smile in the face of anything. The big albums of 2004 — Kanye West's "The College Dropout," Green Day's "American Idiot," Modest Mouse's "Good News for People Who Love Bad News," Arcade Fire's "Funeral" — were disgruntled and anxious, at odds with the Spree's devotion to the sunny side of the street.

Huh? Given a country that has everything going for it that we have over the last 24 years, why isn't it the anxious who sound forced? Has there ever been a time and a place in History when it was more appropriate to be gruntled?

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 9, 2007 11:31 AM

With all of the problems we are in a very good time. More are free, more have access to the basic necessities of life, more can experience some luxury. We are not in a Great Depression, in a World War with first class enemies, or going toe-to-toe with another superpower bloc with thousands of atomic bombs at its disposal.

With all of the problems this is a very good time.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 9, 2007 12:03 PM

Yes it is and that's why the media is having such a hard time keeping up the drumbeat of one disaster after another. Here in Florida, they don't know whether to decry that global warming/climate change is causing floods or forest fires or both.

Pretty soon even the most politically will notice the dichotomy between real life and media bleating.

Posted by: erp at May 10, 2007 9:06 AM