Hey, There’s a Bird in This Mirror!

Diversion Enthusiast Society, est. 2007

Music Marathon 2007, Part 16 (Pollock, Emma – Pseudosix)

with 2 comments

Less of a marathon and more of a sprint today. I don’t have much to say about these.

Emma Pollock – Watch the Fireworks

I never listened to Pollock’s old band, the Delgados, but having listened to this, her debut solo album, and seen her open for the New Pornographers this year, I’ve gotten a pretty good feel for her style. Watch the Fireworks is rooted in melodic late 80s, early 90s guitar-driven pop – probably what would have been called “college rock” or “alternative rock” at that point. It’s far from lo-fi, but also not so richly produced as to take away from the chiming guitars, occasional piano, and pretty, if predictable, songwriting. Basically, if you miss the days of Belly and the like, this may be the album for you. As for me, I can’t help but feel I’ve heard this all before, but I have to admit it falls easy on the ears.

The Polyphonic Spree – The Fragile Army

I’ve always wanted to like The Polyphonic Spree. They seemed to have a sense of humor about their cult choir schtick and I’m generally a sucker for giant bands. Unfortunately, I can only handle optimism in very small doses, and their debut, The Beginning Stages of…, shoved puffy clouds and happy tomorrows down your throat and challenged you not to vomit them back up. Vomit I did. No matter how much I couldn’t deny the music for”Have A Day/Celebration” and “Light & Day/Reach for the Sun,” I just couldn’t get past the happy to really enjoy them.

The Fragile Army is the band’s attempt to revise its image slightly. The songs are a little more rock-oriented and stripped-down this time, with more of the focus on Tim DeLaughter’s lead vocals. Perhaps the most important innovation is the new attitude, still generally upbeat, but with a little more melancholy to chew on. So this is the first Spree album I can listen to without getting annoyed. As it turns out, sunshine-up-the-ass attitude aside, they’re still not quite my cup of tea.

Pseudosix – s/t

I know very little about Pseudosix, but their self-titled sophomore album is a nicely rustic album that doesn’t quite do enough to imprint itself on you, but doesn’t exactly make any wrong moves either. In some ways, it reminds me of Midlake’s The Trials of Van Occupanther from last year, but with slightly less-developed songs and the focus shifted far more to the 70s folk-rock style that was merely an inflection on the Midlake album. Most strangely, there are a few bits that call to mind Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky (obviously not a direct influence due to the release dates) down to a vaguely Nels Cline-like solo on “Enclave.” I guess what I’m saying is that this album is perfectly fine, but you’d be better off with the aforementioned Midlake and Wilco albums. If you already have those and adore them beyond all reason, this might be worth a shot.

And, yes, I know that comparison-based reviews are the laziest kind, but I just don’t have that much to say about this band.


Written by Dave

January 7, 2008 at 9:24 pm

2 Responses

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  1. I love giant bands too. Polyphonic Spree just seemed so gimmicky that I was too embarressed to ever really check them out. Plus, I’m tiring of GIANT EXTRAVAGANZA WEEEE MOUNTAINS ARE OPENING UP AND MILK IS FLOWING OUT pop music. Not saying it’s a recent trend (cuz frankly, I dunno) but it tends to lack the drive of a giant rock bands like Arcade Fire or of simpler pop acts like Georgie James.

    Patrick Ripoll

    January 10, 2008 at 2:28 pm

  2. The Polyphonic Spree is theoretically a great idea.

    However, I find the music didn’t live up to advance billing – I thought a band billed as “symphonic rock music” would be a smidge more ambitious.

    That aside, I simply can’t hack Tim DeLaughter’s voice – Wayne Coyne is great, but much like Dylan and Neil Young, we don’t need two of ’em.


    January 13, 2008 at 10:57 pm

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