With their fifth studio album freshly out in the world, Poliça filled the Village Underground with their atmospheric soundscapes.
Village Underground is a strange venue. A sort of warehouse-cum-church, its big gaping ceiling makes for an enviable setting for any band doing the London rounds. Tonight Poliça take this stage, hot off the back of their fifth album When We Stay Alive, released at the end of last month on Memphis Industries.
First up was Warm Digits on support, who beam in videos of singers, in lieu of having one themselves. The pair rock rather funky fairy light style sweatshirts, which every cool band should, although there is a certain feeling of watching a band on TOTP2.
Against a monochrome background, with stripped-back lighting, Channy Leaneagh moves around the stage as a bouncing silhouette. Nymph-like but never ethereal, she’s a strong presence on stage; the piercing lyrics of their back catalogue shine through glitchy guitars and rhythmic drums. Having had a fall in the winter of 2018 that left her unable to walk, it’s great to see her back on her feet, literally and figuratively speaking. That time spent in recovery allowed her the freedom to work on the new album, which we witness in all its glory tonight.
Rousing, defiant and vigorous, their recent single ‘Forget Me Now’ is a highlight, flitting from the sparse opening to melodic verses, with more intense interludes and rhythmic choruses interspersed. The rest of the songs from When We Stay Alive are enjoyable but feel quite formulaic – even when you don’t know them you know the trajectory. That’s no bad thing at a gig though, when all you want is to be swept up in the music.
The songs are precise and potent, synths merging with guitars over keyboards and kinetic drums. Danceable at the same time as being dreamy, they occupy that sort of 3am liminal space, when you’re feeling tired but know you have to commit for the long haul – and do so.
It’s rich, expansive pop that feels an exciting place to be. Poliça might be five albums in, and the last couple of years may have been tumultuous, but they still have plenty left to give.
Photo credit: Zoe Prinds-Flash