Recovering from the death of guitarist Wes Berggren, the surviving embers of the Dallas psychedelic quartet Tripping Daisy and a few dozen friends are taking a completely different trip: They're now the Polyphonic Spree, a sprawling rock orchestra and choir who deck themselves out in white robes and beatific smiles. Recorded in just three days, The Beginning Stages of the Polyphonic Spree evokes Up With People's all-American optimism but also bears the wounds of Spiritualized or recent Flaming Lips. It's an uncanny combination: Even as they aspire to yesteryear's fastidiously arranged orchestral pop, the Sprees seem to be making up their parts as they wail about "sunshine" and "she soldiers." This sloppy but spirited congregation may well end up as an alt-rock novelty, but more disciplined souls might want to follow the way that The Beginning Stages of... suggests.
(Posted: Aug 8, 2002)