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The Polyphonic Spree should end

Rebecca Saunders | Wednesday, January 14, 2004

The “new” sound in music is often given a great deal of credit just for being different. These “innovative” artists are called musical geniuses and are thought to be people of an enlightened nature. In the case of The Polyphonic Spree, the twenty plus, seventies-themed choral group, genius is not a word to be used in reference to their second album The Beginning Stages of… While the large choral group is unquestionably a unique idea, called “Teletubbies for Adults” by the New York Sun, there is not a great deal going on beyond that big idea. While one must believe that the members of The Polyphonic Spree are not in the record business for the money as a twenty-plus group, one has to wonder if it is all some strange cult as the members dance around in their long white robes hemmed with bright psychedelic colors. This secular choir, which looks like a gospel choir in appearance, has pushed the boundaries and must be acknowledged, but this ingenuity by no means requires approval of the album itself. The secular nature of the group leaves the lyrics focusing predominantly on nature, and in nature the primary focus of the group lyrically is the sun and the day that it brings. Eight of the ten songs on the album even have the words “sun” or “day” in the title of the song. With all the songs being titled “Section 1 (Have A Day/Celebratory),” “Section 4 (La La),” “Section 7 (Hanging Around the Day Part 2),” and “Section 9 (Light & Day/ Reach for The Sun),” it comes as no surprise that the lyrics throughout the album are anything but cleaver or meaningful. With lines such as “Have a day / Celebrate / Soon you’ll find the answer” in Section 1, “SUN / Suicide is a shame / SUN” in Section 2, and “Just Follow the day / Follow the day and reach for the SUN” in Section 9, the album eventually becomes a bit redundant. Much of the good instrumental work in the album is very similar and blends together to the point where after listening to the album a number of times, one would still find it nearly impossible to distinguish the majority of the songs from one another.The single from The Beginning Stages of… is “Section 9 (Light & Day/Reach for the Sun)” and it is rather upbeat and fun. Although sounding a bit overdone in happy glee, it is believable and the vocals and instrumentals are good enough to carry the song through. Any merit that may be gained in “Section 9 (Light & Day/Reach for the Sun)” is completely wiped away by the 36 minutes and 30 seconds that make up the pure torture that is “Section 10 (A Long Day).” The “Long” is not understatement, it should have been called the Eternal Day as one listens to the droning of one singer as he never utters a word, but only makes groaning sounds which he attempts to pass off as singing in some world far far away. With no solid lyrics and instrumentals that are not good enough to excuse the absurdness of the album, one can only hope and pray that The Polyphonic Spree is a spree that ends soon, before anyone is forced to listen to this album and believe that it is anything remotely close to good music.

Contact Rebecca Saunders at rsaunder@nd.edu