Limited LP : Indies Exclusive Yellow Vinyl
LP : Standard Black Vinyl
When the COVID-19 global pandemic cut short Poliça's tour in support of their 2020 album When We Stay Alive, the band got back into the studio as soon as possible. Channy Leaneagh, Ryan Olson, and company created Madness as a companion piece to their previous album, and it soon becomes apparent that Poliça are in a similar headspace. As on When We Stay Alive, the feeling that they're reconnecting with themselves and why they make music drives the record.
On "Alive," the glitchy yet sweeping album opener, they heighten the tension underlying all of their music with murky synth strings that intensify the drama and set it to a four-on-the-floor pulse that adds momentum to the mood. At just over 30 minutes long, Madness is one of the leanest full-lengths in Poliça's discography, but they make the time to experiment. Part of the band's creative process included "AllOvers(c)," an anthropomorphic production tool that Olson created with producer/sound artist Seth Rosetter, and while its use isn't obvious, the richly layered electronic textures on songs such as the sci-fi torch song "Violence" are immediately striking. Poliça also play with distance and closeness skillfully on Madness.
They draw listeners near with "Away," offering a rare glimpse of Leaneagh's unadorned voice that brings the yearning suffusing their body of work into crystalline focus, then turn inward on "Fountain," which presents just enough fragments -- somberly looping piano and bass, chirping birds -- to complete the haunting mood. This feeling of movement peaks on "Sweet Memz," which shifts from charging brass to a dark, dubby expanse before setting Leaneagh's vocals free on an a cappella breakdown. Here and on Madness as a whole, Poliça were evolving even when the world seemed to come to a standstill.
- Sweet Memz