Minneapolis-based group Poliça has been receiving buzz for a couple of reasons: The band’s roster includes two members of Gayngs (vocalist Channy Leaneagh and producer Ryan Olson), Bon Iver’s Mike Noyce threw down vocals on Poliça’s “Wandering Star” and “Lay Your Cards Out,” and Jay-Z liked the latter so much that he premiered it on his Life + Times lifestyle website. When Hova shines a spotlight on you, you know the pressure is on. And the band has responded with a debut album, mixed by Jim Eno from Spoon, of nearly 46 minutes of R&B-infused electro-pop with hammering drums, ethereal vocals, heady bass and supplemental emotional baggage.
Opener “Amongster” finds Leaneagh’s demure vocals singing lyrics of equal parts anger and weakness: “Amongst the trees, amongst my freedom/My hands are red, I have been bleeding/What will happen, what will happen if I seduce you, teacher?” The yearning becomes more obvious on “I See My Mother,” with a confession of chasing a quick fix in social and recreational endeavors, only to feel alone, unsatisfied and left out of the comfort of a loved one’s company. The track is based in slowly climbing bass with digitally created horns providing a relaxing instrumental. “Dark Star” reassures Leaneagh’s confidence and independence while “Form” is an apologetic reminder of why the situation fell apart: “I wish you would kick me in the face/I’m the victim, I did it.”
Poliça’s heavy use of Auto-Tune-sounding distortion saturates the shadowy R&B of “Lay Your Cards Out” on lines like, “By the waterside summer wading in sunder/Girl, get your head right.” The churning synthesizer and the simple live drum beats serve as undercurrent here, keeping the focus trained on the intimacy of the lyrics, whose humanness is not lost in the vocal production. The album finishes with a surprisingly upbeat ode to death and how losing someone may make you feel lost yourself. Through the clever synchronization of spaced-out vocals and rambling drums, Poliça dispels psychological trauma in an easy-to-swallow, electro-pop pill.