Album Review: Poliça, 'Shulamith'


Poliça's Shulamith was released on Oct. 22. (© 2013 Mom + Pop Music.)

It's impossible for me to be an unbiased observer of this album. When Channy performed her last show with her old band Roma Di Luna in Luverne, Minn., I was touched by how she imbued everything she did with a wonderful spirit. When I heard the first recordings of Poliça, I also realized what a massive step she had taken creatively with the new project. I liked the band's sound immediately, drawn in by a personal preference for two drummers, co-mingling their intricate patterns with the warm, lush bass and brilliantly programmed synth sounds.

Here on their important sophomore release, Shulamith, Poliça double down on all that is good about that combination. Sometimes tribal, tinged with a meditative delicacy, they produce what I think is a universally attractive organic texture, explaining the positive reaction they've garnered all over the world. And on top of it all, Channy's voice is clearer, more confident and nuanced than ever before — but it's dark, with not one sound filled with joy. Over the course of an entire album this can become too much; even claustrophobic. Because I like what she does and admire the band's technical capability, I found myself wishing that they made a happier sound. Shame on me?

The title of this album refers to a radical feminist Shulamith Firestone, remembered for The Dialectic of Sex, a book that she wrote in a fervor, in a matter of months. It reinterpreted Marx, Engels and Freud to make a case that a sexual class system ran deeper than any other social or economic divide. The traditional family structure, Firestone argued, was at the core of women's oppression. Last August, she died alone in her studio apartment on the fifth floor of a tenement walkup on East Tenth Street in NYC. At the memorial service a friend read a passage from the book that Firestone wrote about herself in the third person: "She sometimes recognized on the faces of others joy and ambition and other emotions she could recall having had once, long ago. But her life was ruined, and she had no salvage plan."

Channy and Alexei Moon Casselle — Channy's musical partner in Roma Di Luna —had a 3-year-old child when their relationship ended in the year leading up to Polica being formed. Channy talked then about her struggle to be both a mother and a performer, but because of the fabulously quick response to Poliça, she's traveled the world and perhaps had all her dreams come true from a professional perspective. I only wish that this had left her wanting to make a record full of joy.

We have to look at why this still is, after all these years of "enlightened" sexual politics. Why does Lauren from CHVRCHES feel the need to angrily push back at the inequality in the music business and in society in general? And why, when I asked Yoko Ono (in an interview that will air Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m.) why we hadn't come further in our struggle for peace and sexual equality, did she sigh heavily and say, "I don't know"?

Have you heard the album? What do you think of it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Related Stories

  • Polica perform an intimate live show in the UBS Forum Before heading out on an extensive tour in support of their second record <em>Shulamith</em>, Polica stopped by The Current to perform before a small live audience in Minnesota Public Radio's UBS Forum. Between songs, frontwoman Channy Leaneagh talked to Jill Riley and Steve Seel from The Current's Morning Show about the new album, the story behind its album art and how it relates to the cycle of a woman.
  • First Listen: Polica, 'Shulamith' Polica's slinky, otherworldly style of electro-pop mixes Channy Leaneagh's angelic voice with distorted, occasionally disturbing sound manipulations and harrowing dual drums. The band's second album pushes its sound forward in exciting, provocative ways.
  • Polica performs live in The Current studio Polica had already recorded their first full-length before debuting on the local music circuit. So the mystery behind them after their inaugural show in September 2011 was already remarkably large, especially considering the musicians' previous projects like Roma di Luna, Bon Iver, and GAYNGS.
  • Slideshow: Polica performs live in The Current studio Enjoy this slideshow of new local band Polica performing live in The Current studio.
  • Polica performs live at SXSW Polica has attracted enormous pre-SXSW hype, but they appears on the brink of something more worldwide, thanks in part to polished and propulsive, word-of-mouth-inducing live shows like this one.
  • Album Review: Polica - Give You The Ghost So what is the sound? I still have no adjectives that work, but where it comes from might be a unique quality of our community at this time, coming from a skill-laden collaboration of artists willing to be brave and knowing that there is an audience out there, on the radio and in the clubs, that is willing to support them when they are.
  • Video: Polica - The Maker (Live on 89.3 The Current) Polica stopped by The Current studio to record a session in advance of their debut album "Give You the Ghost." Frontwoman Channy Caselle says "The Maker" is her favorite song on the record.
  • Video: Poli&#231;a - The Maker (Live on 89.3 The Current) Poli&#231;a stopped by The Current studio to record a session in advance of their debut album "Give You the Ghost." Frontwoman Channy Leaneagh says "The Maker" is her favorite song on the record.

comments powered by Disqus