Poliça’s vocalist Channy Leaneagh has stated that this third album is a “last chance”. It’s not necessarily the last we’ll hear of the band, but she’s aiming to reach a pinnacle. If this is their end, it’s a fine way to go.
United Crushers continues the band’s unique sound established on their 2012 debut Give You The Ghost and its follow up Shulamith. At the core, their music pairs dual drummers with rich basslines and moody, whirring synths. This time, though, they’ve experimented further and thrown in some politically charged lyrics – not that you’ll necessarily hear them through Leaneagh’s heavily processed vocals.
“It’s all shit”, she repeats at the start of opener Summer Please, setting up the downbeat tone for the album at large. Contemporary issues are at the heart of her lyrics, swamped in dark, synthy melancholy. The band’s music depicts our world as a futuristic dystopia, all harsh metallics and ghostly vocals calling out across the gloom. Is there any hope? It’s as if they’ve finally taken their name to heart and composed a cop drama album of whirring sirens and corrupt cityscapes, heavy on atmosphere and cinematics.
Lime Habit is an early highlight, its gentle rhythmic patter like rain dripping over a drug-fuelled underworld: “I scored the drugs for my baby”, sings Leaneagh, “you’re a habit to me”. It’s on the heavily percussive Wedding, though, that she reaches her political peak, a track inspired by rioting in the band’s hometown of Minneapolis. -“Leaders we have none…God was silent”.
Sonically, this album sees Poliça pushing their boundaries. Top Coat features surging, abrasive synths that threaten to overpower the vocals, whilst Baby Sucks includes an experimental jazz influence with its brass and funk bass. Yet too easily they wallow in misery, as on the downtrodden Lately (“lately I feel the weight of love, irreversible damage but I’m good”) and the opening couplet of Fish On The Griddle (“I wonder ‘bout my friends, why don’t they call? Could it be that I have none at all?”).
It’s clear then that the band have put everything into this album. For the most part it’s paid off, even if they’re fixated on negativity. The lyrics aren’t always clear, although that’s due to those processed vocals – an integral part of their sound that they seem unable, or unwilling, to change. And whilst the haunting lyrics may be politically charged, you won’t find any pop hooks here. It’s thick, it’s heavy, and at times it’s all a bit too much, the atmosphere as oppressive as it is fascinating.