Album: The Polyphonic Spree

The Fragile Army (Institute)
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Unlike previous Spree albums, The Fragile Army was recorded before the band had time to become familiar with Tim DeLaughter and Julie Doyle's new songs. Not that it makes too much difference: with 18 musicians and a six-voice choir all adding their two penn'orth, the songs quickly acquire the same characteristically dense, clotted arrangements as before, with massed strings and brass shrouding the intermittently engaging melodies and imposing a measure of emotional uniformity, whether the songs are dealing with war, desire, despair, or youth. On "Get Up and Go", the effect is akin to a particularly agitated Arcade Fire. A few changes are rung on the anti-Bush, anti-war title-track, by employing synth noise and typewriter sounds within a burly brass-band march; but the most immediate and persuasive track is "Running Away", with its euphoric harmonies. Yet listening to The Fragile Army can be like trying to scale a wall of sound with no discernible hand-holds.

Download this: 'Running Away', 'Get Up and Go', 'The Fragile Army'