Algiers

The Underside of Power

Matador

Jun 21, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Find It At: AMAZON

Algiers' self-titled debut revealed a politically conscious band not afraid to use music to deliver a message. As the storm clouds continue to gather over America, the message has sharpened, and an already good band has harnessed the negative emotions sweeping the country to become something more.

The Underside of Power is at once a lament for the state of race relations, and a rallying cry for the dispossessed. Seeped in rage that never tips into bitterness, the Georgia four-piece continue a unique brand of gospel infused post-punk. It's also the sound of four musicians settling into themselves; comfortable in their anger and accomplished at wielding it. The promise of Algiers blossoms, familiar rhythms exploding more forcefully.

Race features across the record, lead singer Franklin James Fisher's powerful voice reeling off a list of black men and women killed recently on "Cleveland." But he also senses power shifting. Amidst the swirling guitars of closing track "The Cycle/The Spiral: Time to Go Down Slowly," Fisher's voice rises to deliver the defiant "I cried out for power/Someday I will find it." The title track is even more explicit, the chorus declaring "I've seen the underside of power/It's just a game that can't go on."

The message is clear: things are bad but a reckoning isn't impossible. Algiers have more than just a message though. Shuddering vocals and handclaps are merged into Fisher's soulful voice, jarring guitar, and haunting piano. It allows switching between the frenetic direct stare of a track like "Animals," one that starts big and grows only larger when the bass kicks in, to the elongated delicacy of piano led "Mme Rieux."

This is one of those zeitgeist capturing records, all done without compromise or a hint of triteness. Algiers were once a band with promise; now they've fully arrived. (www.algierstheband.com)

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