The Polyphonic Spree

The phoenix symbolizes a new beginning. The fire burns off the last vestiges of the past as the bird spreads its wings and takes flight into the future. The Polyphonic Spree harness the flames of rebirth on their 2023 full-length offering, Salvage Enterprise. Led by frontman, founder, producer, multi-instrumentalist, and visionary Tim DeLaughter, the group embark on their next season.

They’re reverent of their history, yet they’re also ready for an even brighter tomorrow.

“Across all of the music I’ve done, lyrically there’s a sense of desperation and a moment of convincing myself I’m going to make it through regardless of how the music dresses up,” notes Tim. “On this one, I struggled with the amount of vulnerability I was experiencing and was willing to share both musically and lyrically, but ultimately decided to let it play out. Now that it’s done, I’m happy with the dance between the two.  It’s a ‘rising-from-the-ashes’ record.”

The Polyphonic Spree was born out of similar circumstances back in 2000. Following a period of heartbreak, confusion, and uncertainty as his original band Tripping Daisy fell apart, Tim started over again. Accompanied by 23 other collaborators, draped in robes, and drunk on the natural exuberance of a new chapter, he introduced The Polyphonic Spree with the now-classic 2002 debut, The Beginning Stages of… The signature “Light & Day/Reach for the Sun” surged through popular culture for two decades, appearing everywhere from the Academy® Award-winning 2004 classic Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to a 2017 episode of Girlboss. It would even be performed on-screen in Wonder and serve as the theme song for Dr Seuss’s The Lorax. Delivering rapturous live experiences at countless festivals and on numerous late-night television shows, they also notably graced the stage at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert and opened an entire tour for the late David Bowie. Beyond Tim scoring Thumbsucker by filmmaker Mike Mills, the band contributed a cover of Nirvana’s “Lithium” to the Academy® Award-winning The Big Short. Along the way, they entranced listeners with the likes of Together We’re Heavy [2004], The Fragile Army [2007], Yes It’s True [2013], and Psychphonic [2014]. In the wake of the 2021 covers LP Afflatus, Dallas Morning News proclaimed, “The Spree Remains one of the more beloved names in the Texas rock landscape.” Without question, The Polyphonic Spree has quietly made an indelible impact upon culture since the turn-of-the-century. Their music has found its way to listeners everywhere, either on the radio, in books, movies, fashion, or even through comedians. As the years pass, this impact has only magnified.

Over the past few years, Tim often found himself alone with a guitar. The instrument doubled as a creative north star for what would eventually become Salvage Enterprise.

“Most of these songs were written on guitar,” he affirms. “There’s an acoustic current running through the whole body of work, and we tried to embrace it as a thread. It has a lot of space to contemplate what we’re going through. I was very specific on instrumentation. I knew I wanted a cross between a Percy Faith and Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young record. With the ability of The Spree to have crescendos, peaks, valleys, we were able to add depth and texture to the classic harmonies and rich folk.”

Audiences notably crowdfunded the record, powering the process—similar to the predecessor Afflatus. It speaks to the commitment of their audience once again. Finishing the music, Tim did something else he’d never done before. After teasing the album in one-time online sessions for crowd-funders, he hopped in a van, traveled across the country, and hosted guerilla “listening experiences” for fans. Armed with a couple of generators, he arranged the speakers in a circle with moving blankets and played Salvage Enterprise from top-to-bottom for free. He hosted these impromptu events in Topanga, Ojai, Los Angeles, San Diego, Griffith Park, Echo Park, Marina Del Rey, Austin, Santa Cruz, and beyond.

“The idea was to get outside, look at the stars, and play this thing in its entirety wherever I could,” he goes on. “It was meant to be a chance to take the music in—and take a break from daily life and. I wanted people to hear it as an album in the classic sense. Back in the day, you’d go buy a record with a friend, come home, go straight to your bedroom, press play, and listen to the whole thing. I tried to achieve that again.”

Now, Salvage Enterprise beckons complete immersion. Opener “Galloping Seas (Section 44)” affixes softly strummed acoustic guitar to an orchestral hum as Tim urges, “Hold on through the galloping seas.”

“We’re all galloping through rough waters,” he says. “I tried to describe the process as well as I could and encourage people to keep their heads above the storm and the waves. Ride it out. It’s going to be okay. It starts off very calm and introspective, and you can envision where it’s going.”

Flute echoes over nimbly plucked guitar during “Shadows On The Hillside (Section 48)” as keys twinkle. A glorious harmony amplifies the nostalgia of “Hop Off The Fence (Section 49).” It concludes with “Morning Sun, I Built The Stairs (Section 52).” Optimism strains through his hopeful intonation, “I learned to fly, the more that I become a new reason, I want to try,” uplifted by boisterous horns and cinematic strings. It crashes into an Ennio Morricone-style crescendo bolstered even higher by operatic vocals.

“There is an arc of leaving the world behind, stripping your old self away, and becoming new again,” he offers. “You’re shedding off this old world, and you’re heading into the future. It’s an epic ending. You’ve made it. You’re going to be alright.”

In the end, The Polyphonic Spree are the soundtrack to that light at the end of the tunnel.

“I was a vessel for this music,” he leaves off. “To me, this is so much more than another album with an ultimate goal of performing it in a rock club. It has a cinematic aspect which I discovered as I traveled across various landscapes when sharing with others. While we can’t wait to bring these songs to a live setting, we are equally excited about the other venues that will host the narrative in a visual fashion. Stay tuned.”