Algiers – The Underside of Power
Post Punk | Soul | Alternative
With their eponymous debut, Algiers became the most exciting new band on the planet. Like some Frankenstein’s monster formed from pieces of Joy Division, Kraftwerk and Marvin Gaye, they crafted a sound that was entirely unique and produced a visceral yet intelligent first record. The world has changed very quickly for the worse in the interim between albums, and the question that has plagued me is would this turmoil fuel their politically charged music enough to break the notorious curse of the second album. With our first sample of the record, the incredible title track, it seemed so. Channeling their anger at a broken system, and utilising their adept songwriting talents, they created a hopeful and radio-friendly protest song; an infectious anthem for the downtrodden that ranks amongst the best songs of the year.
Sadly the rest of the record doesn’t follow this path, but there are a few other new avenues being explored that really develop the band’s sound. ‘Mme Rieux’ and ‘Hymn for an Average Man’ explore a more introspective side to Algiers, with the former giving the finest example of Franklin James Fisher’s soulful vocals, and the latter dabbling in psychedelica. ‘Animals’ is a curious foray into full on punk territory that sadly best showcases the two biggest flaws of the record. The first being the ramped up use of vocal effects making the lyrics hard to decipher, the second being that Underside is a far more chaotic record than their debut, and lacks cohesion. I have no doubt that Algiers will one day make one of the defining albums of this generation, and though the seeds of progress have been sown, they aren’t quite there just yet.