Despite the goofy name, the self-titled debut album of Ryan Pollie’s solo bedroom project-turned-band Los Angeles Police Department demands to be taken seriously. That shouldn’t surprise too many, as it has become a trend of sorts for homespun DIY projects to feign flippant irreverence (consider kindred projects Elvis Depressedly and R.L. Kelly), but LAPD has a leg up on the competition in that Pollie has produced a great, melody-driven DIY album that ranks alongside recent standouts like Mutual Benefit’s Love’s Crushing Diamond and Youth Lagoon’s The Year of Hibernation.
Pollie admits the songs of Los Angeles Police Department are mostly, and simply enough, about a certain girl, and though they aren’t likely to inspire more than casual empathy, Pollie’s lyrics are always in service to the music, where refrains like “You’re the only one I can be myself with” (“The Only One”) and “I cave too soon” (“Cave”) have weight because of the earnestness with which they are delivered. A phrase like “enough is enough” on the song of the same name isn’t anything that would typically inspire, but when Pollie screams it in frustration, the words are given a greater significance, one that is enough to make his sentiments assets rather than weaknesses.
But the album’s real strengths are in its melodies and compositions. Pollie has a music degree, and the ease with which songs seem to pour out of him (he generally writes and records his songs in the same day and already has another album ready to go) underscores the potential he has as both a songwriter and bandleader. “The Only One” tiptoes into the album, feathery-light, allowing for a moment of drama when the song gets loud, and tension that didn’t even appear present is released. “Seven Months” and “She Came Through (Again)” also tap into timelessness in their generosity, unafraid to give a listener exactly what they want, with emotional payoffs and harmonies reminiscent of Grizzly Bear if Grizzly Bear were more interested in crowd-pleasing.
Pollie has spoken of the desire to get into a real studio in the future, and though the lo-fi recording adds to the charm of Los Angeles Police Department, this might be the difference between the very good album he has made and the great one that is hopefully yet to be made. And that’s nothing to joke about.
Essential Tracks: “The Only One”, “Enough Is Enough”, and “She Came Through (Again)”