Minneapolis five-piece Poli‡a have been championed by both Jay-Z and Bon Iver (whose guitarist Mike Noyce appears here on two tracks), but there's little in the way of stadium hip-hop or wistful alt-folk on their debut album, Give You the Ghost. The brainchild of Ryan Olson, the man behind soft rock collective Gayngs, Poli‡a combine the introspective post-R&B of the xx, the ethereal dream pop of the Cocteau Twins, and the eerie electronica of Portishead with so much Auto-Tune that they make T-Pain sound organic. Inspired by vocalist Channy Leaneagh's split from husband and Roma Di Luna bandmate Alexei Causelle, this reliance on studio trickery results in a slightly disorientating breakup album that is just as mechanical as it is melancholic. Indeed, with her Sarah McLachlan-esque tones often pitch-shifted beyond all recognition, it's regularly difficult to decipher even one clear word of Leaneagh's tales of heartache. So it's a credit to Olson's sparse reverb-laden production that the majority of the record still packs an emotional punch, particularly on the claustrophobic opener, "Amongster," and the strangely seductive lead single, "Lay Your Cards Out," both of which also perhaps best showcase the dual drumming skills of Ben Ivascu and Drew Christopherson with their hypnotic percussive finales. Although there are flashes of dub reggae ("I See My Mother"), spaced-out country ("Wandering Star"), and jazz-funk ("Dark Star"), most of the album sticks to a similarly abstract template, ensuring that Give You the Ghost works more as an immersive mood piece than a collection of individual songs. But if Kanye West thought he had the monopoly on Auto-Tuned heartbreak, Poli‡a might make him think again. ~ Jon O'Brien
Uncut (magazine) (p.79) - "[T]hey go some way to forging their own -- snare rim snaps and menacing funk bass constantly chasing with Casselle's Auto-Tuned -- but endearingly vulnerable -- warble."