Saturday 19 October 2013

Poliça - Shulamith

In 2012 Poliça released their debut 'Give You The Ghost' to critical acclaim.  A year later and they're already releasing the follow up, 'Shulamith'.  During that period very little has changed: the quartet's avant-garde sound is still exceptional, but has failed to capture mainstream attention.

'Shulamith' is unlikely to convince naysayers.  Opening track Chain My Name feels more upbeat and dance-influenced than their previous work, but as a whole the album is stripped back to the basics: dual drums, dynamic funk bass lines, Channy Leaneagh's heavily processed vocals and a smattering of electronic effects.  The music conveys a mood of melancholic beauty, ranging from the ominous Very Cruel to the yearning melodies of Tiff (featuing Justin Vernon of Bon Iver fame).

After the initial excitement of their debut, however, there's been little development in the band's sound.  It remains as unique as ever, but individually the tracks are indistinct, lacking the recognisable hooks of 'Give You The Ghost'.  The band stand out for their overall hypnotic music rather than any particular hits.

Moreover, there's a disconnect between the music and the listener.  The band seem more concerned with creating a technically and musically interesting album rather than an emotional one, something that's personified in Leaneagh's ghostly vocals.  Drenched in reverb and effects, her singing becomes another texture in the electronic tapestry of music, delicately and hauntingly cooing above the industrial percussion.  Yet in the process her lyrics are virtually incomprehensible, creating an impenetrable emotional wall.  The album may be named after Canadian feminist Shulamith Firestone, but you'd never know purely by listening - instead, the overall feeling is simply of overbearing sadness.

Poliça may have peaked too early with their debut, but their unique sound continues with a solid follow-up that's as abstract as it is soulful and dreamy.


Gizzle's Choice:
* Chain My Name
* Tiff
* Spilling Lines

Listen: 'Shulamith' is released on October 21st.