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Led by singer/songwriter Channy Leaneagh and producer Ryan Olson, Poliça blend dream pop, R&B, and electronic music into their own expressive style. Their 2012 debut, Give You the Ghost, was as emotional as it was experimental, balancing Leaneagh's heavily processed vocals and Olson's careening sounds in tear-blurred meditations on heartache. Later, Poliça brought more sonic clarity and lyrical edge to the declarations of independence of 2012's Shulamith and 2016's politically charged United Crushers. However, their skill at creating a mood never waned, and it was at the heart of the healing journey they traced on 2020's When We Stay Alive and 2022's Madness. Prior to forming Poliça, Leaneagh's vocal prowess was well known around Minneapolis, Minnesota, as the singer for the folk-rock band Roma di Luna. When that group ended, she became a backing vocalist for Olson's soft rock collective Gayngs. They started collaborating on their own music in June 2011, setting Leaneagh's versatile voice in Olson's impressionistic, electronic productions. Within a month, they had an album's worth of songs ready and began recording, recruiting drummers Ben Ivascu and Drew Christopherson, bassist Chris Bierden, and Bon Iver collaborator and vocalist Mike Noyce to flesh out their sound. The results, Give You the Ghost, were mixed by Spoon's Jim Eno and released by Olson and Christopherson's Totally Gross National Product on Valentine's Day 2012. The album earned widespread critical acclaim, and Mom + Pop reissued it with an EP of remixes that August. Give You the Ghost was also a commercial success, peaking at number 15 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart. Early in 2013, Leaneagh and Olson started writing Poliça's second album, and recorded at Bon Iver's April Base studios. Named after feminist Shulamith Firestone, Shulamith arrived in October 2013 and featured a more streamlined sound as well as a duet with Bon Iver's Justin Vernon. The record expanded on Give You the Ghost's headway on the charts, topping the Billboard Heatseekers chart in the U.S., reaching number 33 on the U.K. Albums Chart, and appearing on charts in Europe and Australia. Poliça's live schedule also grew, with dates at many of the world's major festivals and performances on television shows including Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Later with Jools Holland. The Raw Exit EP, which featured outtakes from the album as well as a cover of "You Don't Own Me," followed in June 2014. The group reconvened in 2015 and engaged in some of their most collaborative songwriting yet. Poliça then headed to El Paso, Texas, to record United Crushers, an urgent, live-feeling set of songs that was released in March 2016 and peaked at number five on the Heatseekers chart in the U.S. As Leaneagh contributed vocals to releases by Lane 8, Sasha, and Leftfield, Poliça began a long-running collaboration with the Berlin-based experimental orchestral collective s t a r g a z e. Connected by Aaron Dessner and Vernon, this creative union spawned 2017's Bruise Blood (a reworking of Steve Reich's Music for Pieces of Wood) and the following year's politically minded Music for the Long Emergency. In February 2018, Leaneagh fell off her roof while clearing ice from it, breaking her L1 vertebrae and damaging her spine. Her path to recovery inspired Poliça's fifth album, January 2020's When We Stay Alive. Reuniting the band with Eno, the record further enmeshed the group's electronic and rock instrumentation and featured some of their most life-affirming songs. When the COVID-19 global pandemic curtailed Poliça's tour, the band got back to recording. Working in Olson's studio, they implemented the anthropomorphic production tool "AllOvers(c)," which Olson created with producer/sound artist Seth Rosetter. Dustin Zahn, Alex Ridha, and Alex Nutter also contributed production work to the set of songs, which were a musical and spiritual extension of When We Stay Alive. Preceded by February 2022's stand-alone track "Rotting," Madness appeared that June.
© Heather Phares /TiVo


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