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Algiers - Shook (Album Review)

Thursday, 02 March 2023 Written by Jack Terry

Photo: Ebru Yildiz

Algiers were a band on the brink of collapse. The genre-mashing collective, burnt out from relentless touring, were feeling the pressure from all sides in a world rife with turmoil and unrest. For a moment, it looked as if they would be calling it a day. “We all got shook,” says multi-instrumentalist Ryan Mahan. But rather than let it spell the end of a group that had already put out three albums and been friends for years, they retreated to where it all began and produced their new album.

Having returned to their roots in Atlanta to reconnect, they imbued ‘Shook’ with the spirit of the city. Its influence can be heard all over these 17 songs and interludes, and not just in the field recordings and samples of local transport announcements. 

Take Irreversible Damage, for instance, a venomously bold hip-hop number that hears vocalist Franklin James Fisher adopt Killer Mike-esque flows and the band as a whole embrace the eccentricity of OutKast.

Flitting from hard nosed rap to more soulful passages, ‘Shook’ storms out of the gate as a record that is not going to let itself be limited by any preconceived notions of what genre is.

That same ethos can be seen through the litany of guest features that decorate this album. Rage Against The Machine’s Zack De La Rocha heads up the features on the aforementioned Irreversible Damage, on which he delivers punch-you-in-the-throat vocals with as much clarity and contempt as we’ve come to expect. Meanwhile, the superb Bite Back hears Fisher trading verses with Billy Woods and Backxwash in a thrice-fried slice of fury aimed at police brutality toward Black communities. 

But amid the rage that permeates ‘Shook’, there’s an indelible thread of joy and celebration, too. Whether it’s the uplifting monologues of As It Resounds and All You See Is…, or the utterly infectious chorus of opener Shatter, there is hope and support among the dark and upsetting lyrical themes. This is an album about trying to reconnect and rebuild, not just as a band, but as a society, too.

Algiers were a band on the brink of collapse. But with ‘Shook’, it sounds as though they’re more solid than ever before. With renewed passion and urgency, here’s hoping they stick around for a long time to come.

Algiers Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed March 08 2023 - LONDON Dome, Tufnell Park
Fri May 12 2023 - BIRKENHEAD Future Yard
Sat May 13 2023 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Mon May 15 2023 - GLASGOW Mono - Kings Court
Tue May 16 2023 - MANCHESTER Canvas Manchester
Wed May 17 2023 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute2 Birmingham
Thu May 18 2023 - MARGATE Where Else?
Fri May 19 2023 - BRIGHTON Chalk
Sat May 20 2023 - BEDFORD Bedford Esquires
Sun May 21 2023 - OXFORD O2 Academy2 Oxford
Mon May 22 2023 - BRISTOL Fleece

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