So the same sound prevails, courtesy of the group’s stay-at-home producer Ryan Olson. Poliça’s hypnotic, post-trip hop sea of dubby R&B and well-crafted electronica is cool and occasionally menacing – the sound of David Lynch smoking a Gauloise in a dimly lit club. The band’s number one fan, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, makes an appearance on lead single ‘Tiff’ – a brooding track which wraps Leanagh and Vernon’s dreamy vocals in velvet synths – while the follow-up, ‘Chain My Name’, is a bouncier number, its angular pop hooks belying the dark edge of the lyrics. So far, so Poliça.
But this is not a band afraid of dynamism and new territories. With their sound nailed, they have the creative space to focus on their message – and so to the ‘me, woman’ bit. The album’s title is a homage to Shulamith Firestone, a feminist activist who Leanagh describes as ‘my muse and my mentor from the grave,’ and throughout its 12 tracks the theme of womanhood is addressed with whiplash directness. It’s a motif continued by the album cover and by the video for ‘Tiff’: a bracingly violent depiction of Leanagh on both sides of a torture sequence, which serves as a mission statement for the album. Leanagh describes it as ‘a portrait of a woman as her own worst enemy’.
In a world of M&S’s nervous ‘womanism’ and Beyoncé-style kinda-feminism, it is refreshing to encounter a band not afraid to be straightforward. With ‘Shulamith’, Poliça incite debate and tackle weighty issues – and all to a pitch-perfect soundtrack that earns them the right to get heavy. Buy this album here
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