Algiers – The Underside of Power

Album Review by Adam Turner-Heffer | 19 Jun 2017
  • Algiers – The Underside of Power
Album title: The Underside of Power
Artist: Algiers
Label: Matador
Release date: 23 Jun

It would be an understatement to say a lot has happened globally since 2015, but a good example of this being reflected in the arts is Algiers' output. The 2015 eponymous debut from the Atlanta, Georgia-via-London band delved into America's dark history in terms of its race relations and acted as something of a warning against ignoring these plain truths. Well, here we are in 2017 and it's safe to say the US and UK haven't quite heeded these warnings. 

So, Algiers' follow-up, The Underside of Power, is the resulting answer to the world the band find themselves in. Joined in the interim full-time by ex-Bloc Party drummer Matt Tong, and produced by Portishead's Adrian Utley, they are a truly transatlantic band witnessing first-hand what regressive politics is doing to the western world. As a result of their new weapons and surroundings, there is now a directness and ferocity to Algiers' sound which their debut mostly just threatened. In short, Algiers are justifiably angry.

Whereas the trio's debut established a cross between Suicide's electro-punk with more traditional Motown, blues and gospel, all propelled by frontman Franklin James Fisher's incredible voice, they have now achieved a transcendent immediacy on songs such as the album's powerfully protesting title track. Meanwhile, Fisher evokes a sense of 1960s rebellion on Walk Like a Panther while simultaneously bringing that fight to contemporary times on Cleveland. 

As the album progresses, Algiers move more into a minimalism akin to Edinburgh's Young Fathers, such as on A Murmur. A Sign. Ultimately, this is an important record at a time when galvanising young people to protest is needed perhaps more than ever. While it's presumptive to assume Algiers have succeeded, this record definitely won't hurt the effort.

Listen to: The Underside of Power, Walk Like a Panther, Cleveland