Album #28: Poliça – When We Stay Alive

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
  • Label: Memphis Industries
  • Best Track: Blood Moon

After gravitating to the two big punk releases on Friday (Sløtface and Dune Rats), it’s time to explore something a bit more off my radar.

I’m not certain I’ve heard Poliça before, but I know vaguely what they sound like. I’ve a feeling I may have seen them on Later… with Jools Holland once. Anyway, When We Stay Alive is the fifth album from the synth-pop quintet. The title may be a reference to singer Channy Leaneagh’s fall from a roof in 2018, her injuries and recovery a central theme of tracks like ‘Be Again’.

I’ll keep this fairly brief as this music isn’t my forte, but I certainly don’t mind it. The second half is particularly strong, starting with ‘Be Again’, which has a hauntingly, ethereal chorus similar to something I could imagine from Bjork, Zola Jesus or the art/music project iamamiwhoami. ‘Forget Me Now’, meanwhile, is a highlight boasting the album’s most memorable chorus, and not surprisingly was chosen as a single before the album’s release.

Some of the album’s magic moments are its most minimal ones. ‘Steady’ is stripped down and carried by Leaneagh’s strong yet cool vocals, and my favourite track is the atmospheric ‘Blood Moon’, where the choruses are punctuated by loud strikes between Leaneagh’s cooing of “you won’t be lonely now” over the back of, well, very little. It’s somehow dramatic and chilling in its simplicity.

I can’t exactly lap this up, but I do appreciate it. Poliça are perhaps in the category of a band I might check out if they were on a stage at a festival, rather than go out of my way to explore.

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