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  • Filed under: Review
  • 02/11/2013

Pick

Policy Hit Gone Bad EP

New York's Policy has only put out four releases since debuting in 2010, but the slow bloomer's latest EP displays a quiet confidence. The silver-plated deep house of Hit Gone Bad struts through colonnades of brash synth stabs as humid summer melodies sprawl over icy-crisp drum programming. Working on tracks during his limited downtime, the lawyer and father of two has linked his songs' immersive feel to an earlier career as a filmmaker. Indeed, iridescent synth sounds unfurling at a cinematic clip are Policy's forte, and something the EP illustrates from the title on down.

A needling synth line repeats throughout "Hit Gone Bad," conjuring an image of a small-time gangster nervously counting his rosary while pyrotechnics streak across the foreground. Catchy but shrewdly avoiding gimmicks, the top-heavy track puts Policy's traditional musical training on display—the guy clearly knows how to play a keyboard better than the average producer, and has more than a few interesting harmonic ideas. In fact, so much is going on in the higher frequencies of "Hit Gone Bad" that the drums wander out of focus after the introduction, making room for an ensemble cast of multiplying riffs. One such flourish is a digital trumpet sound, the kind that's usually the butt of a knowing joke (think LOL Boys' "Changes"), but in Policy's hands, no asterisk is needed.

The notion of musicality per se has often led down the path of diminishing returns, a trend best observed with any genre prefixed "progressive," but with Policy, it plays the practical role of capturing an expansive vision, which allows personality to shine through without straying far from the deep-house tradition. Yet the EP really hits its stride when the scope is somewhat smaller. "Walk Up" finds a balance between drums and a tightly focused melody that's more immediately recognizable as deep house proper, with funky strobes and a skyward, keening synth line over a particularly excitable hi-hat, but things get more interesting when Policy drags some hoarse brass scatting and a darting bass line against the grain. "Thick Nostalgia" is a perfectly luxurious send-off, repurposing another scorned tone—an ascending cluster of notes with the metallic report of a slap bass—as a focal point around which hazy pads and a rambling, pitched-down clavier swirl.

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