The brainchild of Gayngs’ Ryan Olson, Polica were championed by everyone from Jay-Z to Bon Iver last year following a striking debut which combined the ethereal dream-pop of The Cocteau Twins, the haunting trip-hop of Portishead and the spacious post-R&B of The xx. Like the latter Mercury Prize winners, the Minneapolis five-piece haven’t felt the urge to radically change their sound for their follow-up, Shulamith.
Named after the radical Canadian feminist, the follow-up to Give You The Ghost is an equally claustrophobic and disorientating affair which continues to give the hypnotic dual percussion of Ben Ivascu and Drew Christopherson as much prominence as the AutoTune-drenched musings of Channy Leaneagh.
Indeed, although lead single, “Chain My Name,” an unexpectedly bouncy fusion of throbbing bass-lines, glacial synths and muscular grooves initially hinted that the band had discovered a relatively poppier streak, the majority of Shulamith sticks rigidly to the same mechanical and meandering template as its predecessor.
“Very Cruel,” a menacing collage of squelchy bass-lines and wailing sirens bizarrely inspired by the late acoustic songstress Eva Cassidy, initially suggests that such a lack of progression won’t be a problem, as does the dub-heavy comedown of “Vegas” and the gothic-tinged breakbeat of “Spilling Lines.”
However, while Polica’s unique echo-laden style managed to sustain its charm on their first record, it begins to sound a little too “one-trick-pony” over the course of the second; by the time another wave of drowsy synths, tumbling beats and indecipherable vocals penetrates the album’s half-way point, you start to long for something just a little less deliberately austere.
In a recent interview, Leaneagh summed up Shulamith as ‘Drums. Bass. Synth. Me. Women.’ Polica’s failure to push their sound any further forward means that it’s difficult to add much more to her succinct description.