Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Crack in Everything: The Beginning Stages of...

It's A Crack in Everything, where classic albums get picked apart like roast chicken carcasses. Previous ACiE blogs have needled everyone from John Grant to Bruce Springsteen; today, it's The Polyphonic Spree's turn...

Section 10 (A Long Day) freaks the crap out of me, man. I just want to get that off my chest before going any further. Ending this beautiful, lush-sounding LP with two minutes of weird avant-garde droning was kind of a dick move on The Polyphonic Spree's part, and even if it didn't give me nightmares, A Long Day would still be one of the least satisfying album closers of all time.

Right, what else? Quite a few of the songs on Beginning Stages don't really go anywhere - all too often, the band are happy to remain in the same gear, repeating the same lyrics over and over again. Section 8 (Solider Girl) is one of my personal highlights, but I've come to realise that it would feel pretty incidental on any other album - it's literally just three lines, looped:

"I found my solider girl, she's so far away, she makes my head spin around"

And Solider Girl isn't alone; Sections 1 and are similarly afflicted, in spite of how wonderful they both are musically. I realise that the repetitive chanting is a big part of The Spree's ecstatic, cultish appeal, but c'mon - putting a little more effort into the lyrics wouldn't have killed anybody.

Having said that, I will concede that not every song on this album is lacking in the words department. Standout single Section 9 (Light and Day/Reach for the Sun) even has two completely different verses; that sounds like sarcasm, but actually, Light and Day is so much more fully-developed than everything else on this record that it sticks out like a sore thumb:

Okay, so it gets a little repetitive at the end, but at least they kept things moving for the first couple of minutes. By this album's standards, Light and Day is like a frigging Rush song.

My final complaint concerns Section 2 (It's the Sun). I like this track a lot, but some time ago, I saw a YouTube video of the band playing It's the Sun live at Coachella 2003 (watch it below). Since then, I've always been disappointed when the album version peters out politely instead of leaping into that kickass, super-upbeat climax.

Skip to 0:56 for the fast bit.

Oh, and one more thing - what's with your weird naming convention, Spree? I'm sure there's a great reason why every track is called 'Section' something, but even so, it makes it kind of irritating for the people who want to write about your beautiful music.

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