Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Chain My Name” by Poliça from the 2013 album Shulamith on Mom+Pop Music.
Poliça are a band of powerful contrasts. Singer Channy Leaneagh’s voice is distinctly digitally processed, but her melodies and lyrics feel far more human than anyone else using Auto Tune in a post-”Woods” world. The rest of the band comprises a disciplined rhythm section - bassist Chris Bierden and drummers Ben Ivascu and Drew Christopherson, along with producer Ryan Olsen in the studio - that is heady but groove-laden, rock-solid but mellifluous. Emerging in early 2012 with their debut album, Give You The Ghost, the Minneapolis group earned breathless praise from Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, who called them “the best band I’ve ever heard”. After a strong showing at SXSW, Poliça capitalized on this wave of attention by touring relentlessly and building their fanbase.
While they were on the road, the four live members of the band began creating their sophomore effort via email with Olson. The result is Shulamith, a far more direct and focused record that builds on the same R&B and trip-hop edges from Give You The Ghost. This newfound sense of urgency is exemplified in “Chain My Name”, the upbeat, dance-friendly opening track to the album. Leaneagh’s reverberating vocals are clearer than usual, allowing the listener to more easily interpret her lyrical barbs: “So are we made just to fight, All our lives?/chain my name, not this time”. The double-time drum rhythms and subtly growling bass only emphasize Leaneagh’s fervent performance, proving that the band who built their reputation by playing loose, borderline trip-hop grooves can just as aptly turn out a furious club-ready burner.
Poliça are spending the winter touring in Europe, but if they come back to North America to continue the tour behind Shulamith, they’ll announce those plans on their website and Facebook. Read a review of their August 2012 show at Neumos here and watch the band play “Dark Star” live at KEXP in 2012 below: