At the start of the new millennium, Tim DeLaughter of the alternative band Tripping Daisy decided to take a more ambitious approach to pop music: He combined a bright psychedelic sound with a rotating ensemble of about 24 musicians and choral singers dressed in flowing white robes to create an endearingly weird act called the Polyphonic Spree.
Seven years, two albums, and one ringing endorsement from David Bowie later, The Fragile Army is the record on which the Polyphonic Spree learns to cut loose and rock out. Having shed their old, cultlike costumes for fetching black jumpsuits, they have also developed a bigger, bolder sound, embellishing their use of MTV-unfriendly instruments — harps, cellos, piccolos — with an aggressive electric guitar or two. Beneath the dark outfits, however, the group still favors upbeat tunes with get-happy lyrics, and on a lousy day, all two dozen of ’em will still be there to pick you up.
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