Give You The Ghost
Minneapolis four piece Polica got a good bit of publicity when Grammy Best New Artist winner Justin Vernon of Bon Iver told Rolling Stone in a recent interview that Polica was “the best band I’ve ever heard.” Sure, Vernon is a little biased considering he was in the band Gayngs with lead woman Channy Leneagh and album producer Ryan Olson and Polica tauts a heavy use of auto-tune (something Vernon himself is obsessed with), but nevertheless, the comment warrants giving the band a listen. Polica’s debut, Give You The Ghost, showcases a band not quite deserving of Vernon’s comments but still no doubt a promising new band with its own unique, lingering sound.
To land on the sound that is Polica, you can take a spoonful Bon Iver’s intimate vocal stylings, add a pinch of the sultry, sparse sounds of The xx, sprinkle in the drum effects and production of Spoon (again fitting since Jim Eno, the drummer for Spoon, co-produced the album), and throw in a heavy kick of the electro-rock sounds of Metric, and you will come up with Polica. The album bounces back in forth between freakout electronic rock (“Amongster”, “Violent Games”), danceable mid-tempo pop (“Dark Star”, “Fist, Teeth, Money”) and haunting synth ballads (“The Maker”, “Wandering Star”). “Amongster” opens the album with an absolute barrage of percussion as the song builds and builds on the howl of Leneagh’s voice. “I See My Mother” follows with a dub reggae backbeat and evocative doses of saxophone to color the space around “Leneagh’s soulful voice. Channy’s voice is no doubt the centerpiece to the band and the project, and while constantly auto-tuned, there is really no she has a beautiful voice, as the auto-tune just serves to further distort and ghost-ify her voice.
Like so many new indie bands nowadays, Polica sports two drummers in Drew Christopherson and Ben Ivascu, though unlike most of these bands, those two drummers make up 50% of the band rather than just a small part of a 10-15 piece mob of musicians. With this, Give You The Ghost doesn’t sound cluttered and noisy but rather the percussion is what lays down the hammer and sets the echoed tone for the band. They also subtly bring in world music influences in songs like “I See My Mother” and “Form” with solid results. The songs also bring to mind Phil Collins at his finest with their repetitive nature and synth and drum heavy sound. Usually not a compliment, but in this case, songs like “Wandering Star” and “Happy Be Fine” revitalize the 80’s ballads in an admirable light.
Give You the Ghost does begin to wear thin after a few listens due to the repetitive nature of their music and the singularity in Leneagh’s auto-tuned voice, but these really only fall under minor complaints. Given the right backing, I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if Polica finds itself a much larger following on their next album, as the band literally formed late last year. Give You the Ghost is a sign of good things to come.
Can’t Miss: “The Maker”, “Amongster”, “I See My Mother”
Can’t Hit: “Lay Your Cards Out”