Poliça, "Shulamith" (Mom + Pop)
When the Justin Vernon-accompanied single "Tiff" kicked off the hype for this Twin Cities band's sophomore album in April, you knew the record was going to get plenty of attention from indie bloggers and NPR affiliates. However, you didn't know if it was actually going to go anywhere new. "Tiff" felt like a rehash of the rhythmically booming, vocally billowy soundscape Poliça had already laid out and covered pretty thoroughly on its 2012 debut, "Give You the Ghost."
Fortunately, the rest of "Shulamith" — named after recently deceased Canadian feminist and "Dialect of Sex" author Shulamith Firestone — is pretty darned adventurous and experimental. Among the freshest tracks is the kickoff song (and second single), "Chain My Name," with its polished synth sparkle and disco-punk groove. From there, the album weaves from what sounds like post-apocalyptic R&B make-out music ("Smug," an example of where all the XX comparisons come from) to soulful, laid-back electronic dance music ("Trippin' ") to freaky, teeth-rattling throb-rock territory ("Very Cruel," the album's most intense and mesmerizing track).
There were parts of "Give You the Ghost" where the lack of guitars at times actually felt like a missing ingredient, but not here. Meanwhile, the two-drummer rhythmic mold that took shape during the making of that first album feels fully formed on "Shulamith," especially in the schizo-rhythmic "Vegas" and hypnotic and cocky-sounding "Torre," the latter of which shows producer Ryan Olson's heavy sonic imprint.
Singer Channy Leaneagh opens up more, too. Her lyrics — which were more deeply personal and buried on the first album — are sometimes more audible here, and occasionally evoke the album's namesake theorist ("Torre" sample lines: "Who is the harlot? I am / Who is the diamond? I am / Who is the lion? I am"). As important as what she's saying, though, there's a wilder, freer and less robotic-sounding emotional value on this album. Even as her band has enlarged and sharpened its silvery sound, Leaneagh hasn't lost her raw, ex-folkie singer/songwriter edge.
Chris Riemenschneider, Star Tribune