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When Poliça packed up their microphones, looping pedals, guitars, horns and drum kits and commenced with the touring efforts following Give You The Ghost‘s Valentine’s Day release earlier this year, the Minneapolis electro-groove outfit was, arguably, getting to know their first record on the same speed as everybody else.
“Almost every song on Ghost is my first or second time singing it, ever,” says Channy Leaneagh, Poliça’s frontwoman and lead vocalist, calling from the road in Chapel Hill. “It wasn’t a record that was well-rehearsed. We all liked that the songs serve as a very reactionary kind of documentation of what the record first felt like for us. When we were getting to know these songs, it felt kind of like it does when you first fall in love. Now, I sing melodies, I fill in on vocals, and I really feel like these songs are lovers–I like to keep it fresh and new with them and really explore them. The songs have changed for me since the record’s release in that I’ve learned to sing them, kind of.”
This is not to say the intricately braided harmonies and unpredictable sonic pairings that pop over the course of Ghost‘s 45-minute running time were hastily thrown together or the product of a lack of prep in the studio. If anything, it’s quite the opposite: Leaneagh, Chris Bierden, Ben Ivascu, Drew Christopherson and Ryan Olson all came into Poliça with demonstrated strengths and notable endorsements behind them, having played out in Minneapolis alongside or as a members of Gayngs, the amorphous, Bon Iver-touted, experimental indie powerhouse that serves as the Twin Cities’ musical poster child for creative collaboration.
The lush, digitized vibratos and heartbroken lyrics (penned by a then heartbroken Leaneagh) that raked in the accolades for Ghost translate to the Poliça live show without shedding any of the record’s deliberate, emotional intensity, as proven by their strong festival showings at SXSW and Lollapalooza. The album may have been pieced together quickly, but the finished product is the result of some ebbing emotional turmoil that made its way to the tape.
“The only way I really know how to or want to make music is sincerely,” says Leaneagh, regarding the album’s weathered, love-lorn tone. “I’m pretty honest, to a fault. I don’t mean that as a compliment towards myself–I say too much and share too much, but I’m also very guarded and introverted. I’m someone who considers music to be as therapeutic for me as it is for anybody else when I perform it. I just try to separate myself from the songs that I wrote: they were about me, but they’re not anymore. ‘I See My Mother’ talks about me chasing after somebody new, and how I can’t settle my heart or settle in the moment and just enjoy and trust it. I sing that song every night, and I listen to that, and I really love feeling that alone. It may be some kind of masochistic tendency, but I love acting that out onstage. I’ve learned a lot about myself from touring and performing these songs.”
Ghost was re-released on Mom + Pop Record–home to Andrew Bird, Sleigh Bells, Metric and Tokyo Police Club–back in August, and as their celebratory fall tour winds down with a handful of northeast dates before an Austin City Limits set on October 14, Poliça continues to grow within the construct of their debut while writing steadily towards the future.
“With Ghost, there were so many things that were happening that were perfect for how that record was made, in that we’d record in short bursts,” says Leaneagh. “Now, we’re on the road constantly and I’m not so sad (laughs) so it’s different. We’re kind of just trying to be what we can while trying to improve, because we can’t repeat the last record, as it was very circumstantial. We’re playing new songs, but we like to make sure that the songs came to the places they were meant to be.”
Poliça play Webster Hall tomorrow, Oct. 6.