Poliça is the type of band that has the talent, the connections, and the vision to become bigger than itself.
Architects Ryan Olson and Channy Leaneagh formed ties during their work together in Gayngs, and since have recruited two drummers, Drew Christopherson and Ben Ivascu, and bassist Chris Bierden, to ride the variable wave of critical acclaim that their first album, Give You the Ghost created.
Now, a year later, the band has honed its dark pop landscapes into the haunting, yet hypnotic Shulamith.
The album carries a more hurried sense of anger and purpose, as easily demonstrated by the violent cover and the album’s title, a reference to radical feminist Shulamith Firestone.
With this pretense, Leaneagh shows her talents as an apt storyteller and a pointed songwriter. Her ruminations of romance, empowerment, sacrifice, egotism, and identity all cruise along the wiry synths and formidable rhythm section that is synonymous with the band.
“Torre” is a highlight here, where Leaneagh’s stream of consciousness styling culminates in a powerful chorus of identity, pride, and blame.
In addition, Poliça’s once definitional use of auto-tune has been subjugated to a lesser role, giving Leaneagh’s own vocal talents a little more breathing room. Still, on some tracks, particularly “Dark Star,” the modifier is used to great effect, producing an unnaturalness befitting the tone and timbre of the song.
With all this brooding seriousness, don’t think that Poliça has given up the funky Minneapolis groove that made people raise their ears in the first place. “Tiff,” which features Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon, a long-time champion of the group, struts along with bouncy, spacey snyths and a shallow groove with just the right depth. Even slow drive “Warrior Lord” holds its own brooding sub melodies over those grimy synth leads that pervade the entire album, bringing a dark, yet almost calm rhythmic grind.
Shulamith is championed by the hyperactive, spazzy “Chain My Name,” the biggest nod to pop on the entire album. The urgency of the track, with its inescapable high-pitched, shallow synth leads and bouncy bass rhythms, will stick in your head for years to come. The urgency of the groove is one of the most notable moments on the album, and makes “Chain My Name” the type of track other bands will never be able to top.
The world of R&B electronica has grown into maturity in the last few years, as Poliça has come into existence, and this band’s presence bolsters the genre. Leaneagh’s vocals and Olson’s compositions are organic, and they rank among the top of all of the co-ed, indie-pop duos jangling about.
While Shulamith is not Poliça at its most innovative, it works in all the right places. It may not be long before Poliça holds the banners for indie R&B on its ascent in the music world.
Poliça – Shulamith tracklist:
- “Chain My Name”
- “Warrior Lord”
- “Very Cruel”
- “Spilling Lines”
- “I Need $”
- “So Leave”