I’ve loved Ryan Pollie (the man behind Los Angeles Police Department) since he auditioned for my college a cappella group twelve years ago.
We asked recruits to demonstrate a hidden talent, and Ryan announced that he could convince anyone to go to any restaurant at any time. Then he launched into a passionate endorsement of Quiznos that left me equal parts hungry and bewildered by such impromptu absurdism. Before he’d sung a note, I knew — as Paul Thomas Anderson once said of first seeing Philip Seymour Hoffman act —he’s for me and I’m for him.
Ryan sent me the demo for “If I Lied” as he prepared his second LP, his first for Anti- Records. I fell head over heels for the song, even performed with just acoustic guitar and synth drum. I thought he could have released it as-is, but Ryan wasn’t content. When he played me the final mix a year later, I was overwhelmed. He’d let the song bloom with unique flourishes — what sounds like a horde of kettle drums, his trademark one-man choral breaks — that left me scrambling to reconcile what I’d loved then with what I loved even more now.
There’s a feeling I call emotional vertigo — when the full arc of the past slams into you so suddenly that your head swims. That’s how I feel when I hear this song, and recognize the voice performing it as the one that hypnotized me into craving Quiznos. I’ll never be able to quite pass you that significance, but those pockets of emotional vertigo are everywhere; I feel it when I look at my wife and recognize her as the bookstore clerk I had a hopeless crush on eleven years ago. I feel it when I look at our daughter and remember her screaming into the world two years ago. So if this song can never give you quite the same vertigo it does me, then I hope I can at least pass you a reminder to look for emotional vertigo in your life. Trust me, it’s a hell of a rush.
Would I lie?
(Song recommendation by Ethan Warren)