Track Review: Polyphonic Spree “Section 29 (Light to Follow)”

    At the onset of “Light to Follow,” the massive membership of the Polyphonic Spree is hard to account for. A crunchy lo-fi synth beat dominates early, but that’s likely programmed. One or two players try to justify their spot on the tour bus by making assorted squiggles that don’t amount to much. Only the bass player truly earns his keep. Cult Band leader Tim DeLaughter’s crisp vocal seems sort of lonely, surrounded by the slight echo of an empty room. Even the naive female voice that answers him is uncharacteristically singular and small. This bare-bones approach helps ease the qualms of cynics for whom flowing robes and multiple tambourine players are somehow creepier than the band’s new black military garb. The pleasantly subverted expectations help the inevitably clunky new age lyrics like “Love is a mixed-up smile” go down easy.
    The big symphonic swells come eventually, with production tweaks and vocal layers piling on by the dozens in the song’s second half. This sort of plus-size melody and lush orchestration has nearly worn out its welcome since the Spree’s debut, but the complex arrangements here are hardly genteel. It sounds like a more muscular bunch of Illinoisemakers, and apparently some more power is just what the fussy indie multitudes were missing. I’ll be damned if this doesn’t sound pretty great.