The songs on Poli?a's acclaimed debut Give You the Ghost flowed into each other in a blur of feelings and sounds that evoked the Cocteau Twins working with a cutting-edge 2010s R&B producer. Wisely, Channy Leaneagh, Ryan Olson, and the rest of the band don't try to recapture that stream-of-consciousness beauty on Shulamith. Instead, on this more ambitious and effortful follow-up, they bring order to those chaotic emotions, most notably in the frosty slickness of Olson's production and Leaneagh's more assured singing. Give You the Ghost was such a wild ride in large part because of her heavily processed vocals, which often transcended words and focused on the emotional resonance of her tones. On Shulamith, she downplays the special effects, giving these songs a clarity that makes them a fitting counterpoint to the dreamlike intensity of Poli?a's debut. If Give You the Ghost was a tear-blurred meditation on loss, then this album embodies the sharper edges of independence; it's not until the breathy album closer "So Leave" that Leaneagh truly lets her guard down. Despite that tough shell -- or perhaps because of it -- Poli?a imbues much of Shulamith with a darkly seductive vibe that peaks on "Very Cruel" and "Torre," where Leaneagh purrs tauntingly, "You can't have me anymore." In keeping with the album's more streamlined sound, the band's songwriting is also more straightforward; tracks like "Chain My Name," "Trippin'," and "I Need $" have honest-to-goodness hooks and choruses. This structured, measured approach means that Shulamith lacks some of the highs and lows that made Give You the Ghost so thrillingly intuitive, and at times the album feels almost too consistent for its own good. Not that there aren't standout moments: the formidable dual drum attack on "Vegas" and "Matty"'s dramatic pauses show Poli?a still have a flair for drama. Even if Shulamith isn't as strikingly original as Give You the Ghost, the growth in its songwriting and emotional complexity suggests Poli?a are in it for the long haul. ~ Heather Phares
Rolling Stone (p.86) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[T]hese kids blend distant, white-on-white melodic minimalism with early-Prince electro burp-'n-grind."
Entertainment Weekly (p.100) - "It's propulsive enough for dance floors, and dreamy enough for headphones." -- Grade: B+
Mojo (Publisher) (p.86) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[M]elodic swoops conceal deeper emotional truths, proving intelligent pop music still has the ability to seduce and enthrall."
Paste (magazine) - "'Matty' anchors the album's closing stretch, with drummers Ben Ivascu and Drew Christopherson and Chris Bierden on bass making some of their loudest, boldest contributions to the record..."