Since releasing their first record in 2011, Poliça have never taken the easiest route. But every demand they’ve placed upon themselves and every challenging situation has simply served to enhance their art. Recently the Minneapolis-based alt-pop duo have had to contend with both the demands of a new baby and realising ‘that difficult third album’. “Having a baby and releasing a record is a crazy move, but life is not always in our control,” the band’s singer and keyboardist, Channy Leaneagh, tells me. “And then sometimes it is, and we choose strange ways to form our path.” Leaneagh and partner Ryan Olson released United Crushers earlier this year. There’s undeniably a more accessible feel to their work now. While this is far from a blatantly commercial release, its arrangements sit together more comfortably and Leaneagh’s vocals have broken free of the heavy processing we’re used to. Her voice is now able to convey even more emotional power within its immense range.
The album does seem to be more lyrically upbeat than previous outings though, this might be a reflection of the pair’s maturing. “I’m lightening up a bit and growing out of the teen angst.” They still don’t shy away from subjects like the hopeless vagaries of suburban life and police brutality, but this is a band seeking to offer observation rather than confrontation. As a whole body of work, it does continue the classic Poliça theme of exploring human relationships. It feels like every thought and emotion during its production has been bared to the whole world. “This song-writing business has always been deeply personal for us. I want to find new sounds and words inside ourselves.” Of course, there will never be anything as simple as a purist love song in their back-catalogue. Loneliness, temptation and alienation all come to play on this hauntingly beautiful record.
Like most working mothers, Leaneagh has been presented with the difficulties of balancing her career with home life. “I find it extremely hard to make anything or get anything done besides taking care of my kids every day. Motherhood has made me recognise the gift of creativity and time management.” She finds herself having to fight for the time and space to be an artist, sometimes losing her way. Her family keeps her grounded and has been a huge inspiration to her art.
Poliça are older and wiser, and while the past couple of years have transformative, they’ve come through with their best work yet. At times the album sees flashes of optimism amongst the sultry, dream-like electronica. “I think Ryan continues to evolve and look for sounds that are exciting to him and our community.” At points United Crushers does seem quietly political, but that’s hardly surprising when you consider the atmosphere in the United States right now. “It’s scary here and feels like a very bad dream. It’s been good for America to show its ugly face as still very racist and fundamentalist on both sides. Democracy is slow I guess and I can only hope it’s brewing up a revolution as long as people aren’t too high on soma and Netflix when the time comes.”