Poliça’s current album, Shulamith, is named after a central figure in the early development of radical feminism.
It’s a firebrand quality that’s absent from the Minneapolis quartet’s live set, which is a tasteful blend of synthpop and twisted R&B. Part of a wider trend towards coffee table electro, what they lack in visceral excitement they make up for with poise.
It’s a cool that’s nearly broken when, to celebrate the end of their European tour, they play what vocalist Channy Leaneagh describes as ‘the first encore we’ve ever had’. Her enthusiasm, however, is usually only evidenced by how much her dancing locks into the groove.
Looking like she’s blindly scratching on a mixing desk, she gets lost in the opening blast of ‘Smug’ and ‘Raw Exit’, which combine her heavily treated vocals with a less immediate La Roux backing track and Bjork-lite rhythm pattern.
The way in which her vocals are mechanised in this way is repeated in the industrialisation of Drew Christopherson and Ben Ivascu’s live drumming. Often playing the same parts they’re also supported by programmed beats on the juddering trip-hop of ‘Very Cruel’ and post-Depeche Mode ‘Chain My Name’.
The latter’s pop noir heart is continued to even more memorable effect on ‘Tiff’, which is a funkier Lykke Li on moonshine serotonin. It’s a sign of how great their blurring of boundaries between organic and electronic could be but all too often their material, while undoubtedly assured, lacks any real hooks.
Gig date: August 16