I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to max out my Polica attention span — between features on MPR’s All Things Considered, their cover story in this week’s City Pages, and last night’s very buzzed-about, very sold-out release show at First Avenue, it’s all starting to blur together a bit. So with that in mind, I’ll keep this brief, but I did want to jot down a few notes about last night’s show while they are still fresh in my mind.
The interesting thing about all this recent Polica coverage is that it’s focused on the band’s origins. Which is valid; their album came together a mere six months ago. But the band hasn’t stopped writing songs and laying them down to tape in the time since Give You the Ghost was recorded. With almost another entire album ready to go, it’s no wonder that the band chose to essentially self-release their debut on Totally Gross National Product (the label is run by Polica’s drummer, Drew Christopherson, and producer, Ryan Olson) rather than get caught up in the red tape of pushing it out nationally, which could have delayed the release by months and months. Though the band could have easily rested on their laurels at last night’s show and stuck to simply playing the tracks on Give You the Ghost, they chose instead to push forward and use a significant portion of their time on stage to release brand new material.
A few weeks back, when Polica headlined the second night of the Current’s birthday party, I noted that there was a distintive Sade vibe on songs like “Form.” Their new songs push that vibe even further, centering around subtle Afrobeat rhythms and further integrating Channy Leaneagh’s voice into their tapestry of sound. A few of the songs sounded a bit too similar for my taste and didn’t give Leaneagh the opportunity to let loose vocally, but at the same time it made sense that she wouldn’t want to stay in such a visceral emotional space for too long. Give You the Ghost is an exorcism of sorts, and the new material seems to find Leaneagh in a more peaceful, meditative space.
One new track that varied from that description was performed in their encore; after a very sparse blues song that stripped away the vocal manipulations and gave Leaneagh a chance to show off her natural talents, the band launched into a track that could just as well be titled “Dark Star: The Sequel.” That fierce track made for a perfect transition into one of their most pace-quickening Give You the Ghost songs, “Amongster.”
For a full set list and rundown of the evening, check out Erik Thompson’s review and Stacy Schwartz’s photos over on Gimme Noise.