Up on the downbeat
By Mark Jenkins
Friday, Mar. 23, 2012
Minneapolis band Polica got an early boost from hip-hop kingmaker Jay-Z, and the affinity isn't hard to comprehend: There's an icy funkiness to the quartet's new album, "Give You the Ghost," whose basic ingredients are synths and Channy Leaneagh's limpid soprano. But goth, trip-hop and post-punk also mingle, from the urgent "Violent Games" to the moody "Leading to Death."
Polica was begun last year by Leaneagh and Ryan Olson, both members of
Gayngs, but the reclusive Olson takes credit only as producer and co-writer. Officially, the band's members are singer Leaneagh, bassist Chris Bierdan and drummers Ben Ivascu and Drew Christopherson, who play a prominent role, most notably when one drummer speeds up as the other maintains a mid-tempo groove. Yet the dominant timbres are electronic, and that includes the vocals, which are echoed, multitracked and heavily processed.
Leaneagh's recent divorce surely shaped such songs as "Happy Be Fine," which broods that "I need some time to think about my life without you." Her lyrics are potent even when they aren't so specific, though, and so is Polica's music. Knowledge of Leaneagh's personal life isn't necessary to appreciate this music's eerie downbeat vibe.