The début album from this quirky six-piece hailing from Minneapolis proves to us that Auto-Tune need not be a word hissed from people’s lips with a general sense of malevolence. Give You the Ghost is a proud and beautiful expose of the electronic mimicry that can be potentially utilised by traditional indie artists, and its use is ingeniously manufactured by Poliça.
Introducing haunting and ambivalent vocals at the very start on ‘Amongster’ may be at first, a shock, but these are a concurrent theme throughout the album, and a definite highlight. In a weird sort of way, the tracks seem to have an almost natural feeling to them, as various synths loop in and out, inviting you further into the depths of the album which is so eloquent and layered. As the transition into ‘I See My Mother’ is made effortlessly, Poliça prove they don’t just need artificial buzz to make an impact as the simplistic echoes and distinctive drumbeats draw you in once more. ‘Violent Games’ is next up and is more, well, violent. Deeper, darker and even harder to analyse, by this point – if you haven’t already – you are able to appreciate the extreme levels of craftsmanship possessed by lead vocalist Channy Leanagh and her fellow members, formed from elements of electronica artist Gayngs.
‘Dark Star’ their most recent single, has an instinctively catchy sound as Leanagh’s vocals become easier to disentangle and with the inclusion of jazz instruments, this brings a level of traditionalism to Polica’s expansive music. As the lyrics hail, “there ain’t no man who can pull me down from my dark star”, you realise Give You the Ghost contains a certain poignancy that serves to centre the album and ensures that the album does not explode into multiple directions. Unlike Grimes, whose début album also contained similar levels of vocal experimentation, Polica seem to have pulled this off with ease.
At times though, things do seem too easy. Although ‘Lay Your Cards Out’ is another key moment in trying to smash through the generic pop barrier, towards the end, all things seem to drift into one amorphous mass of hazy reverb. ‘Happy Be Fine’ and ‘Wandering Star’ are caught up in the problem of just being too distant, having too many echoes and just being too vague. One could easily get so immersed in the album that it becomes very hard to focus on what the meaning of it all is, especially at the tail-end of the album.
Despite these irritations, the incoherence is one of the unique characteristics of Give You the Ghost and is, quite possibly, one of the reasons this has been such a success. Defying conventional norms is always a major risk, but this album justifies recent hype in creating a wholly fresh sound which is backed up by some astounding talent and delicate production.