Record review

Phases and Stages



The Polyphonic Spree's cult leader, Tim DeLaughter, wrote the original score for Thumbsucker, an indie film account of a misfit teen with an oral fixation. DeLaughter's score drips with melancholy, as befits any authentic narrative of teendom; it's a surprisingly subdued effort from a usually exuberant outfit. DeLaughter shines solo on "Wonderful for You," his backing ensemble providing eerie "la la las" in the album's transitional moments. While cute, sweet songs like "Sourness Makes It Right," which charms with delicate violin, harp, and French horn, stand alone, one gets the sense that to fully appreciate the quirkiness of the tunes, one has to have seen the movie. Not that the 53-second screamfest "The Call of the Wild" or 30-minute comedown "Acceptance" aren't enjoyable, but some context might be useful. Then again, maybe having been a teenager is context enough. As an added bonus, three tracks by Elliott Smith are present, including his cover of Big Star's poignant "Thirteen." As the collection wraps up with the triumphant "Move Away and Shine," the gray clouds begin to lift and the grownup inside awakens, thankful to have lived through the teen years.


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