On The Fragile Army, the third album from Tim DeLaughter’s symphonic pop collective The Polyphonic Spree, the previously-robed group picks up right where they left off with their last release. The first track, “Section 21 (Together We’re Heavy)” continues the theme of the last record, Together We’re Heavy, while continuing the band's tradition of titling all of their albums in sequential order (ie: this is their 21st song).
But from there, the continuity begins to fade.
For a band who has reflected their collectiveness and demeanor through their attire, the switch from white and multi-colored robes to a vaguely militaristic uniform speaks to the music too. Often maligned for their sunny outlook, The Fragile Army sees the Spree seeking a more angular approach. There's more emphasis on guitars and traditional rock instruments, and less of the sweeping symphonic sounds they are known for. Across the board, there's a seemingly bleaker outlook. And frankly, they just don’t do angst as well as glee.
Is this a reflection of our times? Is the pissed-off and defeatist attitude simply reflective of world news dominated by a never-ending war? Maybe. But even if that’s the case – especially if that’s the case – we need the old Spree now more than ever