I remember seeing The Polyphonic Spree at a Big Day Out some years ago. Being in the audience felt a little like I was attending some huge revival meeting except everyone was cool and not even slightly religiously righteous. That this huge band choose to wear robes probably didn't help with this feeling.
I also recall the smiling faces everywhere and just how joyous the whole occasion was. For anyone even slightly curmudgeonly, wandering into this uplifting experience would have felt like they were in the first ring of Dante's hell.
Listening back to The Beginning Stages Of... is not like seeing the band live. How could it be? As a result, this album comes off a bit bland. Oh yeah, the ideas are nice and there are sunny shiny horn sections and uplifting choruses aplenty but if this was a normal-sized band instead of 23 musicians working together (how they squeeze that many egos into a room is a feat in itself) I think it would probably sound pretty ordinary.
VERDICT:TURN IT DOWN
I defy anyone to listen to the Spree and not get a great big grin on their face. The mere concept of the group, with its multithat's nothing until you experience the songs, particularly It's The Sun with its sudden bursts of full-fledged vocal force.
We were lucky enough to see them in concert, and the whole festival audience that came to witness the event just beamed and clapped and called for more. My one regret that day was I didn't get to the merchandise stand in time to buy one of their t-shirts, which the staff told us had sold out in record time.
I've previously spoken about songs to play at my funeral, and while there's nothing on this CD to actually make a point of playing, I think it'd be a great background album for when people were just gathering before the actual event. God, I can be morbid. (YourZ sez: are you keeping notes because I'm not gonna remember all this). But this is one album I think would fit well in just about anybody's collection. Have a listen - let us know what you think!
VERDICT:TURN IT UP and really listen
For more information: http://www.thepolyphonicspree.com/