Cynicism is one of the more contagious viruses in the world of modern rock music, but somehow Tim DeLaughter has managed to survive a full decade on the fringes of the major label scene without succumbing. Having dissolved the postgrunge Tripping Daisy after the death of guitarist Wes Berggren, the charismatic singer retreated to his Dallas home base, emerging earlier this year with the unwieldy but wonderful Polyphonic Spree. Two dozen strong and dressed in matching white choir robes, the singers and musicians make a joyful noise, one that recalls a chance meeting between the Flaming Lips and Up With People. With DeLaughter holding court at center stage — his mates arrayed on risers on either side — the ambience tilted toward revival meeting. With French horn, flutes and hand percussion at the fore, the songs — all untitled and all culled from the band’s self-released “The Beginning Stages of the Polyphonic Spree” album — were uniformly joyous, neogospel in construction, neohippie in sunny tone.
“Sunny” is the operative term here, a word that DeLaughter uses — in one permutation or another — in just about every song. On the printed page, his lyrics — mostly simple couplets along the lines of ” Hey, it’s the sun, and it makes me shine” — border on the saccharine, but when he turns his face skyward to repeat them as mantras, DeLaughter makes them go down as nicely as iced tea on a hot Texas afternoon.
With no new material to preview, the band encored with a cover of David Bowie’s “Five Years.” Originally intended as a bleak warning about impending doom, the song was transformed into a celebratory reel, rife with possible ways to revel in each moment of that half-decade span rather than brood over what lies at its end.