We sat under the stars and waited to hear the album we had been anticipating for the last two years. People spread out on the ground on blankets and sleeping bags. The night was a brisk 45 degrees but an 8ft tall bonfire kept us warm. Spirits were flowing and spirits were high. Nearly a decade after the release of the last Polyphonic Spree album, we were finally about to hear new music…
If someone were to try and define the distinct musical fingerprint of The Polyphonic Spree, they would talk about choirs, trumpets, strings, and joyous mantras. Their sound is instantly recognizable. That said, what makes The Polyphonic Spree’s new album, Salvage Enterprise, so interesting is that it seems absolutely unconcerned with sounding like themselves. The familiar elements are all there but instead of being used to create bombast, they are used to accent and develop a feeling.
Salvage Enterprise might be described as an exercise in restraint, with each member doing only what each song needs instead of what it allows. As an example, in the opening track, the band opts to use a mellotron to add “strings” instead of one of the numerous string players they have. The mellotron adds a vintage pathos that perfectly recorded violins would not. Salvage Enterprise strips out individual ego, subverts expectations, and as such is perhaps the richest Polyphonic Spree album yet.
A few individual notes on the album, the choir is exceptional and provides some wonderful worded harmonies instead of their typical ethereal oohs and aahs. I absolutely love the B3 organ that pops up in track 4. Every musician kind of has their own internal musical motif or pattern and Tim’s guitar picking pattern runs like a bloodline from Tripping Daisy through Salvage Enterprise. The sequencing of the album is also perfect. Rather than being merely a collection of excellent songs, Salvage Enterprise feels like one cohesive idea, a journey through hard times, fighting for something worth saving.