Algiers Album Review
Released June 2, 2015
Genre: Industrial Rock, No Wave, Gospel, Post-Punk, Blues, Noise Rock
True Detective’s second season kicked off Sunday, premiering the crime anthology in the industrial streets of Los Angeles. The theme song of the first season perfectly captured the creepy, yet cozy atmosphere of the demented Louisiana swamps (a la Timber Timbre). For the second season however, the creative team decided to open each episode with the growling croon of Leonard Cohen. I’ve personally thought that Timber Timbre’s music was perfect for True Detective’s first season, and now that the second season is upon us there isn’t another band that would fit the bill other than Algiers, an industrial, soulful nightmare that is hauntingly beautiful.
Algiers fit the bill primarily due to their hybrid concoction of a sound. Imagine industrial/ no wave and mash that with repeated drum loops and soul vocals that would put Hozier to shame. That’s Algiers, and it’s a project that is surprisingly, well, good. The album opens up with some call-and-response gospel stomps and claps before soulful hums ring in on top of the droning atmosphere. While most of the songs on this album are gospel to their core, Algiers music is pure anti-gospel. Rather than uplift or promote peace, they weigh down the listener with burdens of American life: despair, oppression, change that may never come. there’s a protest spirit laced within these songs but they don’t necessarily promote raised fists either.
The Southern trio’s sound is an interesting mix that one can liken to James Brown howling about oppression while Swans careen in the background. The second track “Claudette” features screeching guitars while lead vocalist James Fisher howls into the darkness. “And When You Fall” features a nice drum loop that holds the track together as it ventures into a, mainly, electronic territory. “Blood” is chillingly framed around a whip-like claps and the ghostly ring of a tambourine. The tone of Fisher’s voice makes it sound like an old Southern hymn and the whip like claps only accentuate the horror and heaviness of the song. “Black Eunuch” is possibly the most energetic and intense track on the album while “Games” finds Fisher delving into the depths of his soul. For a band with a pretty alienating sound, they manage to say a lot of important stuff, especially given the country’s current state of racial equality.
It’s interesting to see two polar opposite types of music coalesce into an impressive body of work. Algiers can easily be interpreted as cynical, but the band never wavers their resilience as they roar, croon, and careen their way through the eleven song album. Algiers is heavy, existential, relevant, rewarding, fresh, and eye-opening debut. Despite a lack of diversity on the tracks, Algiers is worthwhile debut. If True Detective Season 2 had used “Blood” as a theme song it would be more of a message as well as a thematic statement.
PRETTY NEAT MUSIC
FAV TRACKS: Remains, Claudette, And When You Fall, Blood, Old Girl, Irony. Utility. Pretext, In Parallax, Black Eunuch
LEAST FAV TRACK: untitled