Welcome to the new world of pop. As the UK charts remain filled with the same lazy lyricism and dime-a-dozen Diplo rip productions, there are artists on the outskirts pushing our perceptions and pretentions of pop to an ever-extending boundary. Think Grimes and her Mariah-manipulating vocal, or The Weeknd and his slickly skewed RnB cuts. And now think Poliça. And don’t forget them.
Already heralded by the likes of Justin Vernon and Jay-Z, this Minneapolis outfit have a lot of hype to live up to. And on debut offering Give You the Ghost, they do just that. Formed from members of the already much-respected Gayngs, Poliça came into being after lead vocalist Channy Leanagh showed growing potential in the eyes of her bandmate-turned-producer Ryan Olson.
The album’s subject matter finds its roots in the least groundbreaking of musical motivations, a recent break-up: an age-old muse, but one that profits the 11 tracks with unbound honesty and sentiment. Instead of a tired and wallowing rehash of the past, we’re offered a search for future understanding and acceptance, explored through a world of reverb and Auto-Tune.
On album centrepiece Dark Star, Leanagh levels, “Ain’t no man in this world who can pull me down from my dark star.” It’s an essential summation of the feelings encapsulated on the record. The lyrics are accessible, but never too personal, the context never too glum or over-bearing. It’d be easy to breeze through Give Up the Ghost on first listen and take away nothing but the beauty of it all. Yet it sucks you in, and with every listen a new line flickers into the fray.
Of course, all this happens over the real backbone of the album: its stunning production, intelligent musicianship, and creative use of sounds and samples. The songs twist and spark with flares of percussion, solid basslines, and the occasional blast of brass.
It’s difficult to pick holes in Give Up the Ghost, to separate its influences or pigeonhole it to a specific niche. Poliça have created something that is both unique and universal. Something very pop.
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