- by Justin Pearson Rating:6 Release Date:2016-03-04 Label:
What initially drew me to POLICA's debut album, Give You the Ghost, was its freshness; I'd never heard anything like it. However, that specialness seemed to dissapate for me on sophomore album, Shulamith, so I was hoping United Crushers would return me to that initial frame of mind. While the songs are more compact here and tightened up, at times they suffer from the album's relatively short length and never really get a chance to open up to reveal that gorgeous headspace their debut was imbued with.
In a recent interview with DIY Magazine, lead singer Channy Leaneagh shared her state of mind surrounding the album's origin: “I saw this record as my last chance. I’m not saying it actually is, but that’s where my head was at.” It does indeed feel like it's reaching for greatness, but without holding tight enough to maintain a steady grasp.
'Someway' and 'Wedding' are two examples that highlight the album's weaker points, the former employing a forward-moving dynamic that never really gets off the ground while the latter just seems too busy, making it feel cluttered.
A handful of tracks work quite well, though. 'Summer Please' clips along at a nice galloping pace while the smoothness of 'Lime Habit' reigns in the restless spirit of the lyrics: "I’ve a habit in life, keeping wild at reach/ gonna turn me into the type/ shadow’s light never eats." The start/stop beat of 'Melting Block' keeps you engaged with its interplay of beats and Leaneagh's vocals.
'Lately' is one of the album's best tracks, and it shows what Polica is best at sonically - skittering beats covered by a warped synth line that's tailor-made for Leaneagh's vocals to move around in: "If it's good it's gonna stay/ It's gonna be my only way." Just as good, 'Lose You' is infused with the spirit of their debut. Leaneagh delivers the song's sad refrain with a beautiful melancholy "What's to lose/ What's to lose/ Just you."
United Crushers isn't strictly boring, but at times it fails to hold your interest. A lot of the songs sound too similar to stand out individually. This could be due to the swirling nature of their music, where ideas bubble and boil before having a chance to simmer into something more concrete. In their quest for a masterpiece, it seems they've made a record that's uneven at times even though it still contains the drive that's informed their past work. It's certainly not a bad effort, but you can see the potential being overshadowed by the fog of desperation, even if it's just a hint that's hanging in the background.