Algiers are a modern rarity: a band with something to say about big issues, both existential and global, with a high bar set without fear of missing, in preference to an easier acquiescence: the antithesis of Franz Ferdinand’s “music that girls can dance to”, perhaps. Their self-titled debut Algiers is an album of righteous funk, another fight against The Man, now assisted by forty years of sound technology, the entire art rock movement, the loudening secular voice, and globalisation in full bloom.
Algiers’ music is intense and heavily loaded with politics and history; as are the answers they give in interviews. Lead vocalist Franklin James Fisher, bassist Ryan Mahan and guitarist Lee Tesche all grew up around Atlanta, Georgia, but the formation of Algiers was a distant, international event, prompted by Franklin and Ryan’s online communications while the former was teaching in France and the latter studying in London. They sent each other files with musical tracks to work on, and discussed philosophy and international affairs, until all three decided to reunite in person around 2007.
It took the group until June 2015 to release a debut album, self-titled, on Matador, though they had debuted a double A-side single in 2012. Its ethos is not so much snotty punk as social anthropology, and its sound a mix of a hundred things: R&B and rock, the throb of Suicide, basslines from early 70s Blaxploitation themes, gospel vocals, and post-punk guitar lines. “Gospel has always lingered in the margins of pop music” Ryan told Vice in an interview. “Racism has ensured that it remains liminal, that the originators rarely benefit from its global commodification. But as an influence, it is actually really commonplace, particularly in the most decadent forms of rock and roll. This album is an attempt to problematize this history in our music.”
The band toured in support of Interpol in 2015, before headlining their own tours across the UK and Europe later in the year, borrowing Bloc Party’s Matt Tong for drumming duties.
Algiers group members
Franklin James Fisher - lead vocals, guitar, piano, percussion, sampling
Ryan Mahan - bass, synthesisers, piano, drum programming
Lee Tesche - guitar, percussion, loops, backing vocals