Poliça’s new EP feels like a bit of a fig leaf - Raw Exit does ‘exist’ in the sense that there’s artwork, a 7-inch and, you know, four new songs. But there’s something vaguely unromantic about noting that the songs’ primary purpose seems to be as the extra material for a deluxe edition of last year’s Shulamith album, and that the actual standalone EP seems to have been spun off as a bit of an afterthought (I guess in the age of iTunes people just buy the extra tracks and don’t fret about it, but nonetheless, on some level there must be people who are like ‘ooh, a 12-track album? Not for me. Oooh, 16 tracks you say? I’m in!’ Which is weird. Maybe.).
Anyhoo, this is 2014 and these are the sort of things that happen, so you know. And the bottom line is that taken on their own, these songs are good, a signal that the clubbier direction Channy Leaneagh’s band took with their second LP is now yielding some slightly more interesting results, if perhaps still not quite as potent as the wonderfully muggy avant-R&B of their self-titled debut.
Perhaps the most notable thing about Raw Exit is that Leaneagh’s voice has started to emerge from the languid haze of autotune that formerly engulfed it. The fact she was clearly an excellent singer always added a certain frisson to Poliça’s work, her altered, entrapped vocals giving her the air of a woman drowning in something or other. Nonetheless, it’s pretty gratifying to hear her simply belt it out as she does with the earnest, impassioned cover of John Madara and David White’s Dusty Springfield-popularised soul classic ‘You Don’t Own Me’, a moment of generous, straightforward catharsis, a great karaoke performance with a sleek future soul chassis.
Elsewhere title track 'Raw Exit' is stabbing, nagging, wired R&B, with a strung out, late-in-the-night-and-dancing-on-fumes feel - probably the closest in tone to the Shulamith songs. ‘Great Regret’ is probably the pick of the bunch, a robust, bassy and poised disco number, probably the mod sweepingly dramatic and downright exciting - or at least, excited - thing the band have recorded. And ‘Baby Blue’ is kind of its opposite, another disco-ish number with vague shades of ‘Stayin’ Alive’ that’s enervated by weirdly detuned keyboards and strange slap-bass diversions - it’s strangely compelling it its messiness, particularly the oddball plinky-plonky keyboard solo, but it never exactly gets going.
Raw Exit is not a big statement record and I’m not sure there’s much point in trying to read the runes with regards to what it spells for the band’s future. It’s a little on the slight side, a little throwaway, and the odds are that by the time the next Poliça album comes out, we’ll have all kind of forgotten that there was a kind of EP out. But you know, fundamentally it comprises four pretty good songs, and there’s no arguing with that.
6Andrzej Lukowski's Score