By Kim Lyle
The word Poliça didn’t exist before the alternative rock group claimed it their own. The story goes that after a member of the band’s computer crashed, a mysterious file appeared relabeled as Poliça.
Sometimes the most beautiful things are created after a crashing of sorts, and Poliça is no exception. The band began as an experimental project by lead vocalist Channy Leaneagh shortly after she had a devastating separation from her long time partner and collaborator, Alexei Moon Casselle.
A few years later it has grown into something larger than anyone could have ever imagined.
Last Monday, they graced the Spanish Moon stage with a performance of mostly new material alongside a few of their better-known tracks. Hailing from the Twin Cities, the band stopped in Baton Rouge while on their way to Texas, where they have plans to begin recording a new album.
The set they performed was akin to driving through a dense, all-encompassing fog in the early morning hours. In the beginning, the listeners seemed entranced and delighted to be lost in the thickness of it all. As the night progressed, each song lifted the haze a little higher, making the band’s destination increasingly clearer.
Lead vocalist, Leaneagh, sounded like she was singing calligraphy instead of lyrics. Her largely inaudible words turned her voice into more of an instrument, one reminiscent of both R&B and Middle Eastern sounds smeared alongside the beats of her synthesizer. She rarely took center stage, remaining off to the corner as to keep attention equally distributed among the group.
The careful listener that actually managed to decipher a few lyrics may have been found a little unsettled by the depth of melancholy present in her words. “And I hear you whisper something sweet, but it doesn’t move any nerve in me,” comes from the song Wandering Star and hints at a relationship nearing its end.
Supporting Leaneagh were her three band members, two on the drums and one on the bass. Yes, that’s two sets of drums. Drew Christopherson and Ben Ivascu may play the same instrument, but their approaches are completely different. One hip-hop and the other hardcore, their unique styles mirrored each other perfectly. Then there was Chris Bierden on bass, raising the R&B levels present onstage.
Music aside, one of the most endearing qualities of Poliça was their modesty. With very little to speak of in between songs, the focus remained where it should be – on the music.
Dressed in a casual black band t-shirt and Adidas sneakers, Leaneagh demanded attention be given to her voice rather than her body. The band’s subdued appearance was refreshing and only infused more power into their sound.
After returning to the stage for an encore, the band wittingly played the songs “Too” and “Kind,” some of their newest material. The up-tempo change in pace from previous songs left the audience on a more hopeful, energetic note.
Like the name Poliça, their music is one that defies categorization, leaving the listener lost in a sprawling haze of dreamy, atmospheric sounds – ones that will leave you haunted by their memory days after listening.