The Polyphonic Spree’s most obvious asset — its awesome size — is also its most challenging obstacle: For every massive choral-symphonic climax that blasts into the psych-pop heavens, there have been many double-fortissimo thuds too big and bloated to achieve liftoff. To create the Dallas ensemble’s fourth album (not including last year’s Christmas album, a live Rocky Horror tribute and other ephemera), leader and former Tripping Daisy Tim DeLaughter has Kickstarter-funded a slightly leaner Polyphonic that here achieves a varied dynamic previous Sprees lacked. Even for a band whose membership has sprawled into the mid-20s, less is…well, you know.
This time, rainbow-hued tunes dictate the arrangements’ scope, rather than the other way around. The chugging opening title cut strikes a feisty defense against detractors with a sticky self-empowerment slogan — “There’s always more to you than there are of them” — and ringing guitar riffs that skew more U2 than Up With People. What follows certainly has its share of monolithic moments, but now they’re effectively scaled to some of DeLaughter’s most substantial and finessed compositions. He’s still rewriting one of the many pages from the Flaming Lips’ songbook, but when the results are as delicate and thoughtful as “You’re Golden,” his imitation mutually flatters.