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Algiers – There Is No Year

Written by Album reviews

Atlanta’s Algiers, variously described as “gospel-punk” and a combo of post-punk & soul, introduces their new album as evidence of a mutation: “traversing unprecedented ground”.

Given the band’s past hits, The Underside of Power (2017) and their self-titled debut (2015) -alongside a smattering of Eps and singles- whether this mutation is benign is key when considering There Is No Year.

The transformation could be called a refinement- or focusing- of their sound, coupled with a decisive introspective turn. The shift is grounded in an internal shift within lead vocalist Franklin James Fisher: the lyrics of the album are exclusively drawn from his “Misophonia” -the hatred of sound- a poem summarised as a product of a period of profound anxiety and lack.

The effect is an album of peaks and troughs: moments of soaring revolutionary Messianism coupled with certain tracks that verge on uninspired. (Though even the uninspired are enjoyable). In the former category you can count the titular opening track, alongside Dispossession, Chaka, Nothing Bloomed and the closing Void. These tracks are those where the calls to action (“freedom is coming soon”, “you can’t hide away”, “it is coming around (it’s opportunity)”, etc…) are matched instrumentally by explosions of chaos within the tracks.

The refinement of Algiers’ sound that occurs on this record, whilst producing the group’s most accessible material yet, tends towards a playing-it-safe: a homogenizing. The rupture & eruption that defined preceding records gets smoothed over in this process.

“Repeating Night” is the choice example of this, pairing Fisher’s poetry with a passable beat- the power of the former diminished by the monotony of the latter. “Unoccupied” likewise disappoints, but it’s fair to say that there are no dismal tracks on the album- just unfortunate lapses into repetition and monotony. The message of revolutionary hope persists, untainted.  

Last modified: 17th February 2020

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