Graham Reid | | 1 min read
The previous two albums by this sometimes incendiary, political, four-piece soul rock-cum-punk experimentalists out of Georgia made Elsewhere sit up and listen for the powerful sonic punch coupled with direct social and historic comment.
Of their self-titled debut we simply concluded “extraordinary” and of The Underside of Power we said “although they are not an easy proposition – the songs are mashed between industrial rock as much as punk and metal edge guitars – they again come off as 21st century protest music for a generation more willing to take up arms in anger than carrying banners on a street march”.
So there's not going be any “hope you like our new direction” from a band which was born of soul-rock and post-punk parents and midwifed on resistance politics and the Black Lives Matter era.
Although there is a subtle shift in their sound.
Despite those references to their aggressive style (evident here in the breathless Void), the multi-culti and highly educated Algiers wrap up their short songs – the longest of the 11 here just 4.25 – in tight structures and melodies.
And on this album produced by Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Earth) and Ben Greenberg (The Men) they bring programmed beats to the fore and offer an almost cinematic sound design (Hour of the Furnaces with the gripping line “we're all standing in the fire”).
There is also more breathing space this time round (the brooding poetry of the soul ballad Losing is Ours, “we're too in denial to know”) as much as a sense of placing their songs into different settings which hit a point between angry soul and industrialism (We Can't Be Found).
They can also deliver what could even be radio singles: the danceable soul stomp of Unoccupied; the downbeat and urgent funk of the sax-coloured Chaka; gospel-soul Prince on the spacious and apocalyptic Wait for the Sound which becomes menacingly oppressive through the low drone . . .
Over these 40 minutes you get a sense that if ears were open this could be a breakthrough album for a group which demands to be heard.
Serious listening music for serious listeners.
Check them out on Spotify here