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Every so often, a band comes along that blows your mind with its organic nature, whether it’s based on an emotionally raw voice, a straight-ahead rock & roll vibe or unabashed lo-fi charm. Let’s make one thing clear: Poliça is not one of those bands. Instead, the Minneapolis outfit offers painstakingly produced digital sound centered on Channy Leanagh’s Auto-Tuned vocals and guitarless band, with synths guiding conventional instruments rather than the other way around. And it’s quite captivating, in a way that’ll lead you to distantly contemplate your latest make-out session while laying in bed on a late Sunday morning.
The combo, which counts Jay-Z and Justin Vernon as fans, has a legacy that precedes its success. Its excellent debut, Give You the Ghost, was produced by Gayngs mastermind Ryan Olson and Spoon drummer Jim Eno, and features guest vocals from Bon Iver’s Mike Noyce. Leanagh and Olson recorded the bulk of the album in just two days using purely synthetic arrangements, before fleshing out the sound with bassist Chris Bierdan and drummers Drew Christopherson and Ben Ivascu.
The result is a languorous convergence of cobwebby electronics, heavy percussion and molten vocals, falling somewhere on the continuum between R&B and art rock. There’s a cozy, soulful base, but the skittery drums keep you from trusting that false calm; Leanagh’s mournful, smoky, distorted vocals act more like an instrument than a lyrical vehicle. Spooky yet sultry, the record will haunt you well after it ends.—Marley Lynch
Poliça plays Coachella Friday April 12 and Friday April 19.
Follow Marley Lynch on Twitter: @marleyasinbob
This article originally appeared in Time Out New York on March 22, 2012.
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