Album reviewsMusic

Poliça: United Crushers – Album of the Week

9 March, 2016 — by Christopher Ratcliff0

polica united crushers

There are some excellent noises on Poliça’s third album, United Crushers. Probably some of my favourite noises committed to record ever.

In fact I’m just going to start by listing them all right here:

  • – There’s the stabby noises that add little synthy bits of punctuation to Channy Leaneagh’s vocals in the verses of ‘Someway’.
  • – There’s every thickly dramatic drumbeat and Faltermeyer-esque keyboard in ‘Wedding’ that makes it sound like a particularly serious and violent 80s thriller.
  • – There’s some yapping puppy noise in ‘Melting Block’, which is very weird but good weird.
  • – There’s the sound of a robot wretching in the distance during the verses of ‘Top Coat’. Once you hear it you can’t unhear it.
  • – Again in ‘Top Coat’ there’s the sporadic fly-like noise, darting across the soundscape, that comes in every 15 seconds or so. You end up craving to hear it again.
  • – There’s the warped synths of ‘Lately’ that go a bit Boards of Canada (i.e. like it all starts off nice and summery, but ends up making you believe the world is ending.)
  • – There’s the creepy bit of skittering strings in ‘Berlin’ that creates an intense feeling of danger with every key change. That’s the most exhilarating one.
  • – Then finally there’s the squelchy water-play of ‘Lose You’ which feels cleansing and freshens you up ready to listen to the whole thing all over again.


Okay, so those are the noises. How about the lyrics?

I couldn’t understand a fucking word.

That’s a terrible confession to make. One that will see me unceremoniously booted out of the Music Journalists Club and stripped of my membership badge, black-framed spectacles and leather satchel. They’ll probably even make me shave off my beard.

I really love United Crushers, I’ve listened to it repeatedly since last week, it’s Poliça’s best album yet. But I realise I’ve absolutely no idea what’s going on. It doesn’t even matter that Channy Leaneagh’s vocals are (slightly) less vocodered then they were on previous albums, her naturally high-register makes it seem like she’s incanting an alien language that only Sam Smith can understand. Maybe the vocals are recorded really badly, maybe they’re too muddied in the mix, maybe she really is making it up as she goes along. Normally I wouldn’t mind, but I really feel like I’m missing something important here.

And I am…

There are clearly important points to be made on United Crushers. The album cover, featuring Leaneagh’s naked pregnant body obscured by her own running blood from two freshly lopped-off fingers, is an incredible statement. Invoking the sacrifice a mother has to make to protect herself and her child from an increasingly violent world. ‘Wedding’ contains many allusions to bullets flying, hands raised and a “sergeant soldier” so it’s clearly trying to imply the difficulties of remaining safe in the face of police brutality, but this is somewhat lost in the chorus when Leaneagh’s voice peaks haughtily in the red zone.

According to the accompanying press release United Crushers is “heavily political and deeply personal with thick references to social injustice, self-doubt, and isolation, the rapidly increasing urban decline in gentrification, overcoming music industry machinations, and finding true and honest love in the wake of it all.” That’s an awful lot to chew on, but it’s frustrating that much of it is lost.

Ultimately though it doesn’t matter. Leaneagh’s vocals are (when untinkered with) beautiful, and carry you through each track with disarming emotion and vulnerability, in a way that a silent movie actor can convey a world of thought and feeling through simple gestures. And of course there are the noises, which I’ve already covered in handy bullet-point form.

There is definitely some swearing in it though. I just about made out a fuck or two.

Check out all the latest music releases in our new album reviews section, including Cullen Omori’s New Misery.

Poliça - United Crushers

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