Polica: “Lay Your Cards Out”
It was bound to happen. It was just a matter of time. The much (rightly) reviled Auto-tune was destined to be transformed from a bandage for no-talent pop princesses and flash-in-the-pan hip-hoppers to a tool for the truly artistic. All it took was a band skilled enough to wield such a dangerous musical weapon. That band is Polica.
Pronounced Poh-leesa, there are a lot of elements that go into crafting the Minneapolis-based group’s simmering electro R&B sound. The real star of the show is frontwoman Channy Leanagh’s voice, and it was her voice that attracted Polica collaborator Ryan Olson. They had worked together previously in Olson’s previous project Gayngs. The group was ostensibly a trio with Olson at the helm, but with more than than 25 contributing artists (from groups like Bon Iver and Megafaun), Gayngs felt more like a collective. Leanagh lent her voice to the group’s debut record Relayted.
After splitting with her husband and her former band, the folk-rock outfit Roma di Luna, Leanagh was ready to try something new. She approached Olson (who, technically, isn’t a member of the group) with some new songs, and the band that would become Polica was born. Their first record Give You the Ghost hit the streets earlier this year. It was co-produced by Olson and Spoon’s Jim Eno. It’s a simmering stew of slow-burn R&B with a little trip-hop and back-alley indie cool thrown in for good measure.
One of the record’s best tracks, “Lay Your Cards Out,” is today’s song of the day. Leanagh delivers a fiery vocal performance over swirling, broody synths and hard beats. Even without digital manipulation Leanagh has some pretty impressive pipes, but the Auto-Tune treatment gives her voice an ethereal, other-worldly quality that nonetheless feels oddly natural. With any luck Polica will wrest Auto-Tune from the clutches of ephemeral pop, and deliver it into the hands of true artists everywhere.