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Polica “Shulamith” – Album Review

Mom + Pop Records (2013)

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.


3 / 5 stars     

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About the Author


Jon O'Brien's love of music began as a six-year-old after becoming bizarrely transfixed with the 80s poodle rock of Heart, Europe and Def Leppard. Switching his attention to pop icon Michael Jackson, he then became addicted to the UK Top 40, becoming a rather pointless walking Wikipedia of chart positions in the process. Driving his poor neighbors up the wall while learning to play the drums as a teen, he toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but in studying Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, he realized heÕd rather write about music than perform it. Since then, he's written thousands of reviews and biographies on everything from bubblegum pop to death metal, but electronica remains his main passion, with everything from Aphex Twin to Zero 7 in his spare room-consuming record collection. Jon resides in northwest England near Liverpool.

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Posted in: Album Reviews, Electronic Music, Featured


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