Algiers are a band that have set up their stall to be different. Coupling multiple diverse musical styles such as gospel, post punk, indie rock, blues and importantly electronica, the American native four-piece clearly have created something that in the modern music world is, different. With a clear consideration for politics and important world affairs Algiers are clearly attempting to create great music with a valuable political message to go alongside it, something which the music world has been crying out for. This does not mean that ‘Algiers’ is a ground-breaking, earth-shattering debut from the band and it is at times a difficult listen with few catchy memorable numbers. However it is important to remember which direction Algiers are attempting to take their music in and that is vital to consider this when listening to their album.
The album begins with ‘Remains’ immediately you are hit with a droning electronic sound coupled with a rhythmic soul/blues style clapping. It sets the tone for quite a dark and considered album. Franklin James Fischer’s vocals at this early part of the song are more in the style of spoken word but then build incredibly to the passion and volume that is exhibited on other tracks on the album. He sings “We are what remains” repeatedly through the chorus providing a haunting and memorable beginning to the album. The style of droning electronic sounds and choir chanting is continued through the early parts of the album with Fisher’s vocals becoming more and more passionate and avid as the tracks progress, each with important political messages referenced on tracks such as ‘And you fall’ and ‘Blood’.
The repetitive electronic beats and chanting gospel chorus’ does begin to grate and the message Algiers are trying to put over can be lost during the mesh of so many genres. This can especially be seen through the middle of the album with tracks like ‘Irony. Utility. Pretext’ lacking the same sort of excitement and interest the opening of the album had. However, this confusion and perhaps monotony is blown out of the water by two tracks towards the end of the album. Firstly ‘But She Was Not Flying’ bursts into your ears with a clear change in tone and beat from the band, different and more in the style of afro-funk (another genre this experimental band plays with) than the beginning of the album. This track is expertly delivered and leads perfectly onto arguably the leading track on the album, ‘Black Eunuch.’ This track again focuses on political issues, but at this point Algiers manage to strike what seems to be the perfect balance between post-punk ideas and extremely catchy beats and riffs, led by Fischer’s unmistakable vocals. It is with this track that it is evident that Algiers have monumental potential and although some of the album is repetitive, ‘Black Eunuch’ encapsulates everything Algiers want to be and showcases their clear talent within experimental alternative music. Their music video for this track is well worth a watch also, with the band clad in leather jackets, hurtling through the track with their distinguishable passion and verve.
The album closes with a much slower and introspective track that still utilizes the gospel chanting but in a reduced and quieter way in ‘Games’. However this is just a short stop as the passionate loud vocals return on final track ‘In Parallax’ which concludes the album relatively well, continuing the overriding themes of political consciousness with passionate vocals.
‘Algiers’ is not a perfect or an unbelievably polished debut album. But it does showcase a band that in the coming years could be a real force in both music and politics. Their use of experimental music and collaborating genres does at times come across monotonous during this release, but when Algiers do get it right, they get it undisputedly right on tracks such as ‘Black Eunuch’ and ‘But She Was Not Flying’. Algiers have stumbled across moments of genius on their self titled debut album and now it will be interesting to see how they fine tune these genius moments on future releases to become a renowned socially and politically important alternative band.
Algiers self-titled LP is out now on Matador
The full track-listing for ‘Algiers’ is as follows…
‘And When You Fall’
‘Irony. Utility. Pretext.’
‘Bur She Was Not Flying’