For all their freewheeling tendencies, The Polyphonic Spree have marched forward with an admirable persistence. When the choral art-pop ensemble first made a name for themselves in the mid-‘00s, the group’s massive unison choruses, prismatic visuals, and exultant vibes made them a curious bauble in a sea of jaded indie rock bands. Two decades down the road, The Polyphonic Spree have outlasted many of their iPod Age musical peers, through a stream of global tours, decade-defining needle drops and six studio albums.
The Polyphonic Spree continue to chart a singular course with their new surprise covers LP, Afflatus, released on April 16th. Afflatus was captured live in March 2020 — presumably just before COVID lockdown ensued — in the group’s hometown of Dallas, Texas. The stage-show energy is palpable across a slate of ten covers, ranging from The Association and Barry Manilow to Paul McCartney and Rush. While many of The Polyphonic Spree’s sunniest songs and stage costumes carry complex, near-menacing undertones, the performances here on Afflatus are straight-up fun.
For their take on ABBA’s “The Visitors,” The Polyphonic Spree loosen the slack significantly, transforming the original track’s frosty proto-digital production and taut grooves into a sprawling parade march. Booming low brass, triumphant guitars, a chipper xylophone, and dozens of voices commune for a slice of cathartic rainbow Europop.
Stream Afflatus in full at Bandcamp here, and listen to The Polyphonic Spree’s cover of ABBA’s “The Visitors” below.