Polica - Shulamith

The confrontational album cover for Polica's Shulamith, and the assault to the senses of the opening track do bear something in common. The cover doesn’t necessarily seem to fit the work herein overly, but perhaps each listener will feel differently about that. It gets your attention, as the music is also more than capable of. Perhaps that is all that is intended. The bouncy pop of the first track unleashes a wakeup call and fills the dance floor.

The music within is definitely compatible with the dance floor, with ballads and faster numbers, it sounds familiar and yet original at the same time, and definitely has its place in the spectrum of popular music. Some of the songs move along frantically, there is space in parts, where others are cluttered with a collection of sounds fit to burst. The atmosphere in parts is heavy, dense, and spectacular, in others almost delicately soulful. There is a lot going on over the course of the record. The voice darts in and out of wonderfully skittish beats and synths that have the weight of influence from decades of dance and electronic music.

The atmosphere is toxic in parts; it recalls seedy clubs, meeting new people and the sexual vibrations and expectations between perspiring bodies. It’s a sound that both accompanies that experience and even creates it. The vibes of the songs are what make it special; each song has its own forceful and magical sonic offering, which almost always seems to place the listener in a boat and row off down river to the rhythm of the song.

It’s a hard album to turn off, it’s rather curious, and you never know what is coming next. As each song is different but absorbing, there isn’t an obvious weakness. Perhaps it isn’t for everyone, but what it does it does very well and it would be natural if the band became more widely known and appreciated as a result of this fine piece of synth-pop. A great effort, and by the time you realise that it is Justin Vernon on the eighth track, it has already long won you over, and that is just a bonus, as almost everything he touches turns to gold. He knew before most that this was a band to follow. He wasn’t wrong!
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