The Fragile Army - The Polyphonic Spree

Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 22
  2. Negative: 1 out of 22
  1. The melodies are far more varied than on previous outings, and the sense of dynamics and balance of tension in these songs -- and the arrangements that accompany them -- are the most sophisticated this group has ever pulled off.
  2. The Fragile Army is the Polyphonic Spree's most consistent album, and it thunders with an assurance that was missing from "Together We're Heavy."
  3. Such hugeness can be either exhilarating or tiresome, depending on the listener's capacity for joyful crescendos and enthusiastic shouting. But the album's most intriguing moments come when the church-choir antics are scaled back in favor of some introspection.
  4. Sharpened writing invests these songs with plenty of hooks, yet manageable lengths insure they never overstay their welcome, always leaving you wanting more. [Summer 2007, p.84]
  5. The Fragile Army actually has substance—thematically, musically, and lyrically.
  6. Although the sound of 30 people making music is always going to have an uplifting edge to it, the songs here are less self-consciously happy-clappy than before.
  7. 78
    The baroque lyrics on "Light to Follow" prove to be one of the album's defiantly interesting moments, but these are too scattered to offer much new to the casual listener.
  8. And there's a pleasing strand of experimentation running through The Fragile Army that, even though it could have been developed slightly further, suggests that the Spree are more than a one-trick, um, choir.
  9. 70
    The Fragile Army trades the cluttered arrangements... of their first two albums for tightly focused orchestral pop with big Technicolor hooks. [Jul 2007, p.102]
  10. The Spree... is generally a bit more streamlined in its approach. [23 Jun 2007]
  11. Given the strength of the music and the shock of the Spree’s new choice of uniform, it is too bad that there isn’t something a little bit more biting, a little bit more revelatory in the lyrics beneath that music, the soul behind the uniforms.
  12. Together the band is starting to sound seriously heavy.
  13. The Fragile Army is an all-out orchestral and choral assault for optimism in a turbulent era, but only infrequently are the Spree's songs as memorable as their numbers.
  14. There's plenty of interest here, then--but is anyone still listening?
  15. Despite this being their widest-ranging album, their lack of of a truly great song is ultimately frustrating. [Sep 2007, p.99]
  16. There's now an almost garish cast to the proceedings. [22 Jun 2007, p.71]
  17. DeLaughter needs to be more personal; already having a dozen people yelling at you distances the ideas they express, but emptying those ideas of any meaning isn’t the answer.
  18. These relatively simple power-pop songs aren't always big or memorable enough to support their grand conceits.
  19. The Spree remain a vital, relevant artist only for Volkswagen advertising execs and anyone who takes the last five minutes of “Scrubs” episodes too seriously.
  20. 40
    Flute and horn fight for breath alongside swampy vocals, and a heavy-handed rock bombast doesn't hide a dearth of hooks or memorable pop melody. [Sep 2007, p.110]
  21. The novelty of it all has quickly worn thin.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 27 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 16
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 16
  3. Negative: 1 out of 16
  1. jyotirmayadas
    Dec 14, 2007
    The "Fragile Army" has some great moments here and there and some not-so-great moments. All together though, it's a good album worth buying and listening to, and thank god they got rid of the sheets they were wearing! Full Review »
  2. AmurabiM.
    Nov 11, 2007
    With "The Fragile Army", The Polyphonic Spree sounds very exciting in an ambivalent way. Yes, it notices its pompadour and the whole exuberance to their sound but its clearly than this album suffers of lack of power. Yes, there are darker lyrics and less hippie-dippie-flower-power in this, but that doesn't mean that the album or their sound gets better. It just than it seems that´s more recognizable that Polyphonic has a problem to create powerful and memorable songs. This album feels like some magnificent and flamboyant songs with a dark twist but it lacks some catchy or extraordinary tunes. It seems than for better or worse they are growing, as musicians, as songwriters, as people. But they need, pretty urgently, to craft musical milestones instead of anthems of happiness or, in this case, bipolar requiems. Full Review »
  3. OmarC.
    Aug 27, 2007
    Some of the most inspiring albums ever heard... first listened on a shop, and couldn't take my hands off it... just caught me!!! blew my mind away... congratulations!!! Full Review »