POLIÇA / UNITED CRUSHERS
Poliça’s United Crushers released today. United Crushers marks the band’s third full-length studio album, a follow-up to 2013’s Shulamith.
Front-woman Channy Leaneagh tells us that United Crushers was written during her pregnancy. Thus, the album resonates with the whirlwind of thoughts and uncertainties about bringing a baby into the world today.
Channy admits there is never a singular message per record, but for this album, “there is a constant theme of kind of uniting, over love, oppression, sex, violence, different ways we unite in destructive ways and unite to crush back.” The LP’s title also serves as an homage to the band’s home base Minneapolis and a local graffiti crew with the same name. If you have ever rolled through Minneapolis on 94 West toward the Witch’s Hat, you have noticed the stories-high, unmissable “UNITED CRUSHERS” on the old Archer-Daniels-Midland grain elevators.
“This one specific artist tends to write these little poems all over the city.” One can be found at the end of the “Wedding” music video: “We were born in their world, but they will die in ours.”
With her newborn son on her lap, Channy divulges that pregnancy forced her to do a lot of emotional thinking about the world, the things you lose and the things you gain with motherhood. You are also forced to look outside yourself and become more stable. The “Wedding” music video shows Channy and Sesame Street-like puppets teaching the next generation how to deal with the police. She tells me she is bringing voter registration cards for the merch tables to encourage young people to get involved in the political process. Afterall, we must take agency for the world we are building for future generations.
With “Summer Please,” a song about the street violence that comes with summertime, as the album’s opener and the lyrical content of “Wedding,” a reaction to the militarization of the police and the war on drugs, listeners assume the entire album spews politics. But Channy tells us that much of the album ends up being woven by a common thread in most of the music the band has produced, love and loneliness.
“Lately” begins with “Lately, we’ve been sleeping with the sun, seems like we’re too comfortable in love.” The song speaks to the common risk of getting lost in a relationship, and the contentedness that may stop you from pushing one another to grow and create new things.
Every Poliça song starts the same way. Ryan Olson, producer, starts with the synth and beats, laying the framework for Channy’s lyrics and stories. Layers of bass, melodies, audio samples and vocal effects are added. “It’s a malleable collage, in that there’s a lot of cutting and pasting… always with the synth and beats as the first thing.”
The vocals are often distorted and altered to almost become another instrumental layer or audio sample. Channy uses percussive words like “brim bram” and “flic flac,” almost like verbal beats that respond to the music. “A song like ‘Berlin’… is a good example of really writing to the beat, in that the lyrics are just kind of like another synth line. There’s a lot of space between them. They’re really choppy and they kind of react off the music.”
When left alone with the music, you find yourself searching through the poetic lyrics, trying to decipher their meaning. Each album Poliça puts out serves as a “diary of that time of my life,” Channy says. When an audience member yelled for her to tell them a story. Her response? “I’m up here telling a bunch of stories.”
words / Tiffany Diane Tso
photos / Erik Madigan Heck