The darkly hypnotizing synthpop of Minneapolis’ Polica graced Williamsburg’s Rough Trade Records with a live preview of their third full-length release United Crushers, which is out March 4th. The sold out show charged to the extreme with dynamic duel drummers, angelic harmonies, heartbreaking melodies, and seductive grooves. As much as I’ve loved them when I had caught them previously, this show by far beat them all and make clear signs that this band has really matured and even sweetened with age and has most definitely made me even more ravenous to get ahold of the new disc.
Opening the show was JM Airis, a self-taught journeyman transplant originally from Wisconsin, then the drummer of NYC’s Dead Sparrow, and is now apparently a permanent Brooklyn lo-fi indie master virtuoso solo artist, as shown by his two proper solo albums he has released over the last several years. The sound he is creating now with his massive ensemble is still than of an old school raw folk/country sound with steel guitars and twanginess abounds, although it does now obtain an air of alternative edginess, especially on the new songs. Perhaps, he has let the city come on in and dirty-up his style a bit. It’s not typically my style of music, but they are quality songs, and I must admit I ended up quite beguiled.
“I know I’ve told this story before, but I just had a baby. So, it is especially nice to be back out and playing for you all,” said Polica lead woman Channy Leaneagh from the stage against a wall of cheers of the packed room. Leaneagh has always been an unlikely front woman, as she is soft-spoken, obviously a bit uncomfortable with attention and fame, and even a bit physically fidgety and even a bit awkward. However, when she starts to playing, her whole spirit gets transported into a transfixed and mesmerized state, going into gorgeous displays of fluid movements and spaced out dancing, much like her music in general, yet somehow never loosing her mark and always knowing when to return to her synthed keyboard setup to produce a lush soundscape. She is a trained dancer and theater actor, so she clearly has sublime physical movement in her blood, so I assume it just comes out naturally as her ethereal harmonies arise from her angel-like frame in that magic kind of way.
I was also spellbound throughout with the inclusion of a duel drummer power-charge by Drew Christopherson and Ben Ivascu, who really gave the whole beat of the music a real gut-wrenching revved-up kick that even made the percussion-heavy material from their debut 2012’s Give You the Ghost like “Wandering Star” “Amongster” feel less synthy and provided the beats a more molten volcanic appeal driven along by Chris Beirden’s bass. I did find the new material to be a little less of the driven feminist-empowerment sensitivity of 2013’s Shulamith like when they played “Tiff” and “Warrior Lord” and a bit more back into the synthy, beat-driven torch anthems of her first album. Similarly, her performance showed a true genius of her craft, as she was obviously a bit out of step with being back on the road after having another child and being away from the concert life for a few years, but she is slipping back into her given talents slowly like slipping back into a pair of comfortable steel-toed Docs, once her period of recovery and re-assimilation post-baby has been completed. I for one cannot wait to hear the new album and see them as they come back through in a couple months as I feel this may be their moment to really shine brighter than ever before.
Article: Dean Keim