Album Review: Polica – Shulamith

By on Tuesday, 29th October 2013 at 12:00 pm

Eyes watering, you emerge from the eerie dry ice. All you can do is solemnly bop your head, your face morose after the journey you’ve been on, through the female psyche; the intense neurosis, the sundry delusions of grandeur and dejection all mixed up with feminist ideals and dreams.

Polica - Shulasmith coverThese feelings can often be associated with when you leave a rave, eyes stinging at the dreadful mist of dry-ice fumes, cigarette smoke and the faint whiff of cheap back-alley beak. They can also now be associated with the sentiment after listening to Poliça’s second record, ‘Shulamith’: an alt-pop, synth drenched journey, through the intense feminist mind of lead singer and Poliça’s song-writing lynchpin Channy Leanagh.

Leanagh nailed her sufferer of suffrage colours to the mast quite firmly with their debut album ‘Give You The Ghost’ and within 20 seconds of ‘Chain My Name’, the opener of ‘Shulamith’, we’ve got a melancholic cry of feminist rage, as Leanagh mutters, “Are we just made to fight/All our lives?”, in a fairly relatable attack on the dogma of love and relationships. Relatable as hell, does anybody understand relationships? Channy Leanagh sure as hell doesn’t and she isn’t out there pretending to be some kind of expert. She’s giving a fairly bleak example of her situation and her experiences of being a 21st century woman who don’t need no man (insert funny meme here).


But seriously, throughout this record we are treated to a trippy as balls journey, i.e., invasion of Channy Leanagh’s head. It’s murky water at times, treading through a swirling misty pool of darkened imagery, so opaque that you’re worried you may get caught up in some kind of mire. We’re treated to an almost third person journey, with Justin Vernon interspersing the imagery on ‘Tiff’. As previously cited though, the feminist undercurrents are even more apparent in this record, in comparison to the debut. Understandably so, seeing as the title directly infers a relation to Canadian-born feminist, Shulamith Firestone, author The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution.

Back to the music and as far from the ideologies that this record is penned around, we are treated to some mind-fuckerous beats. ‘Matty’ feels like an LSD-infused horse-and carriage ride with the haunches of the beast tapping like a metronome as you take in the views, the despair of a relationship doomed to fail. The beat is reminiscent of a ‘Plastic Beach’-era Gorillaz, while the melody and lyrics are far more morose and disturbing – we’re invited inside Leanagh’s head freely to indulge in the despair.

You’re probably realising that unless you thrive of the gloomy, this record won’t be for you. Understandably with such deep subject matter explored in detail by Poliça, the music though ranges from unquestionably brilliant alternative pop, with beats so infectious they should come with inoculations in the digipak – to synth smothered vocals delivered hauntingly brilliantly by a Lucy Rose/Laura Marling crossover. Channy Leanagh is the quintessential female frontman of this genre, Controlling the band’s movement and rhythm effortlessly with her immense story-telling and understanding of the pace of songs.

‘Shulamith’ is hardly to awaken you from a deep slumber, but it’s far from something to send you to sleep as well. No, it’s more of a meditatory collection of experiences and experimental rhythms, where time signatures and moulded and skewed to fit the author’s pleasures.

A beautiful collection of torment from Poliça, and most certainly not their last.


‘Shulamith’, the sophomore effort from Poliça, is out now on Memphis Industries. The band tour the UK in February; all the details are here.

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2 Responses

6:21 pm
29th October 2013

My view on the cornucopia of feminist angst that is Poliça’s second record, Shulamith – via @tgtf

[…] wasn’t it?), starring on their current album ‘Shulamith’. (John reviewed it here.) Frontwoman Channy Leaneagh plays two roles in here, and it’s nice to see an unconventional […]

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