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Algiers - There is No Year (Album Review)

Friday, 24 January 2020 Written by Jacob Brookman

Photo: Christian Högstedt

On Algiers’ third studio record, ‘There is No Year’, the Atlanta natives have reined in the production maximalism of previous offerings in favour of a more open-ended, spacious sound. The result is an album of thematic endeavour and churchy righteousness that struggles when dealing with tonal variation and lyrical specifics.

Some of that may be by design. The title—taken from Blake Butler’s 2011 novel about a family haunted by sinister spirits—encapsulates some of the bleakness and pessimism in which the LP bathes. Tracks like Dispossession and Unoccupied marry Franklin James Fisher’s powerful proselytising with bold, doom-laden synthetic arrangements.

The result is a record that soars and stumbles in equal measure. Much like Florence + the Machine, Algiers have got the epic soul-shakers down pat—it’s the lesser tunes that feel tonally uneven and vocally unconvincing.

This is not to say that Fisher’s singing lacks versatility altogether. Standout track Chaka is a club groover built around a hovering synth bass-line recalling the work of its namesake, Chaka Khan. Unfortunately, the lyrics often struggle when subjected to textual analysis. 

The metaphorical proposition of Chaka is interesting. The judgmental words seem to call out a womaniser for his (or her) behaviour, likening such actions to that of a grim reaper: “You gotta get your undead fingers / Onto everything in sight.”

The problem is that while the lyrics feel well-researched and poetic, they often seem to lack a humane understanding of the characters they describe. The allegory-making is often neat and tidy, but the characterisation and storytelling is only half worked out. 

And that is where the generic idiosyncrasy of the band may come to the rescue. Be in no doubt: there is no other group that currently sounds like Algiers and to certain audiences, ‘There is No Year’ will tick all the boxes their previous two records did. But, a bit like late era Radiohead, there is a lot of brain and not a great deal of warmth here. For all the intellectualism and required reading, the messaging too often lacks nuance.

Algiers Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon February 03 2020 - BRIGHTON Chalk, Brighton
Wed February 05 2020 - LONDON Village Underground
Thu February 06 2020 - MANCHESTER YES (The Pink Room)
Fri February 07 2020 - GLASGOW Stereo
Sat February 08 2020 - DUBLIN Whelans
Mon February 10 2020 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club

Click here to compare & buy Algiers Tickets at Stereoboard.com.





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