Polica better than the last time around
original article in this week’s version of The Copenhagen Post
A solid improvement over their last Lille Vega show and a sign of better things to come (PR Photo)
January 24 at Lille Vega
Synth pop dreamers Polica had a solid if underwhelming debut on Danish soil last summer when they performed at a steamy Lille Vega. Wind the clock forward and plummet down the temperature gauge a good 30 degrees and the Minneapolis quintet are back in town, this time around having grown musically over the past half a year or so.
A welcome blast of brooding bass served by Marijuana Death Squads, the industrially inclined, R&B-influenced warm-up act, breathed life into a frozen audience that quickly warmed to the evening’s entertainment. Whilst solid in their performance, the Death Squads were perhaps too hefty a cocktail to start the night off with, as their high pitch frequencies tore into the thin evening air with a menacing vengeance.
Polica pranced elegantly onto the scene and tamed the chaos, driving home coaxing, organic-sounding synth pop that highlighted the best of lead singer Channy Leanagh’s vocal talents against a backdrop of heavier sounds. From time to time she did sound slightly at sea in the waves of instrumentation, but it was certainly an improvement on Polica’s last appearance at the same venue.
Leanagh’s charm is by and large her greatest asset as a performer and this was ultimately what allowed her to gain the respect and attention of the begrudging audience who fronted their usually icy first impression upon Polica’s stage emergence.
Songs off 2012 album Give You The Ghost were the order of the day, performed with flair, fluency and a remarkably quick wit. The highlight of this was signature track ‘Dark Star’, a number that encapsulates all that is good about Polica: Leanagh’s soft vocals over a firm foundation of synth pop brilliance that sparkles with flares of distant melancholia and elation in equal measure.
The audience warmed to Polica as the show neared its conclusion, charmed no doubt by the quick wit of Leanagh, who reinforced her performance with short bursts of creative banter in between songs. After a short, swift encore Polica exited the stage as they had come, humbly pleased with a good performance on the night. Though just shy of a five star rating, it is pleasing to note how much the band have grown in just six months and fair to expect even better from them in the future.
Article for The Copenhagen Post: http://cphpost.dk/concerts/newcomers-deliver-solid-if-underwhelming-show
4 out of 6 stars
With the recently concluded Strøm festival still reverberating through the spine of the city, one would be forgiven for not knowing that there would be a memorable show taking place at Lille Vega tonight. Minneapolis synthpop quintet Polica (Polish for “policy”) are a critically acclaimed outfit who’ve been impressing quite a few in the music industry of late with their curious forays into the warped world of synthpop, with a slight touch of r & b for good measure. One of their admirers is non other than Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon, who went as far as claiming that they are one of the best bands in the world.
Minneapolis band Polica, Synthpop affiliates destined for the grand stage. Photo: Flickr
Performing in front of an almost-sold-out Lille Vega, Polica were slow off the mark, playing with an uncanny casualness that left the audience somewhat in limbo. Sound issues did their bit to exacerbate things, making for an edgy half hour opening, with a performance of ‘Dark Star,’ off their 2012 album Give you the Ghost marking a positive turning point. The song showcased the unique quality of lead singer Channy Leanagh’s coaxing, high-pitched voice, which lost itself eloquently in the immersive, labarynthine instrumentation that accompanied her vocals. More of the same followed, as Polica looked more comfortable on stage and interacted with the audience with a bit of very straightforward stage banter. ‘Wandering Star,’ also off the Give you the Ghost album punctuated the peak of the evening, with Leanagh’s vocals given leeway to run amok once more, this time against a backdrop of sounds that reeked with the unlikely dichotomy of immense pain and great elation all at once.
Unlike the studio versions, Polica’s live music features sparse use of vocoders, meaning that its gloomy attributes are hidden more subtly. This notwithstanding, many of the songs sound very similar and with the band rarely venturing into their more adventurous, electro-heavy ethic, the concert did have the look and feel of a taciturn Monday night show at times. Venturesome antics towards the end did change this however, with a song that had been written only a few hours before the show being played shortly before an encore that bore many similarities to the loud, distorted chaos of fellow synthpop band, Crystal Castles (albeit with less of a rough edge). All in all, Polica put in a good show last night though there are no doubt many areas for improvement. For a band with only one studio album they are, by their own admission “only newcomers” so expect them back sometime soon.