Album: There is No Year
Non-Airable Tracks: N/A
In the sea of modern post punk bands that draw their sound from the 70s and 80s, Algiers have always stood out. From the large amount of electronics and other instruments the band used to the industrial undertones present on their debut to Franklin James Fischer, one of the most exciting singers of the last decade, and his gospel vocals, there was more that set Algiers apart from their contemporaries than there was that fit them in. With this new album There is No Year, their sound continues to defy the norm, but the performances are far less exciting.
“There is No Year”, “Dispossession” and “Chaka” are the most exciting tracks here. The first two build up satisfying atmospheres, the former out of electronic pulses and the latter out of piano riffs, and crescendo into their choruses but only on “Chaka” do Algiers revisit the insane bursts of energy that erupted on Algiers and The Underside of Power, in this case with flashes of free jazz (fans of the Pop Group will feel right at home here). For those looking for doses of that early Algiers energy, these three are the best places to go because the rest of the album seems to linger in soft dynamics that often sounds tired. “Losing is Ours”, “Unoccupied”, “Repeating the Night”, “We Can’t Be Found”, “We Can’t Be Found” and “Nothing Bloomed” are all tame and restrained post punk bathed in electronics. Fisher and company sound like they are merely going through the motions on these tracks as if the crazed “The Cycle/The Spiral” from their previous album never happened at all. Take “Unoccupied” for example, there is a nice groove set in place at the start but none of the added layers throughout the song add any feeling so the ending where all of the motifs of the song come together at once has no impact so the mood ends unchanged from the beginning. It is not all bad news for this new Algiers style. “Hour of the Furnaces” adopts a 70s drum machine sound for a nice retro sound more fitting to more easy-going music and no other Algiers track reaches the level of tension that “Wait for the Sound” does.
Algiers are softer spoken on There is No Year than they were on their first two albums. A problem I find when listening, however, is that they stripped back their original sound but forgot to add in new elements, so we are often left with Algiers. Fans of the band’s fiery instincts will find a little to chew on here and fans of the band’s post punk tendencies might even find a whole meal but, for me, I will just be hoping the band didn’t lose as much footing being an exciting live band as they did here being an exciting studio band.
Sounds Like: Algiers, Public Image Limited, Nick Cave (late 80s)
Recommended Tracks: Chaka
Reviewer’s Name: Bryan
Date of Review: 1/29/20