Algiers Push Their Gospel Punk Through The Dark On ‘There Is No Year’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Algiers previous album, 2017’s The Underside of Power, was a career highlight and one of the best albums of the year.  Their follow-up doesn’t reach those lofty heights; There Is No Year is an artistic collection of industrial synth-laden restrained music with slight gospel/soul/punk/protest flourishes. The band, Franklin James Fisher, Ryan Mahan and Lee Tesche and Matt Tong have worked with producers Randall Dunn [Sunn O))), Earth] and Ben Greenberg [Zs, Uniform] to form a tense, polished, cold affair that never truly explodes into something larger. 

Opening with the title track the band spin this mixture of minimalism and clanging dance beats with a tight grip as Fishers vocals stand out. Along with the opener, the two best efforts are the slow rising, horror movie theme song in waiting “We Can’t Be Found” and “Dispossession”, which is the most Hollywood ready of the bunch. Both tracks play with tension and are built around Fisher’s vocals as he proves to be the star attraction throughout.    

For the rest of the record, things aren’t as successful. Tracks, like the techno ballad “Losing Is Ours” and the sparse “Wait for The Sound”, drag on feeling longer than their run time, while “Unoccupied”, which reminds of Saul Williams’ best work with Trent Reznor, cuts off just when it seems ready to jump to the next level. 

“Chaka” is an interesting noise/soul experiment with Michael Jackson inspired beats working with/against off-key backing vocals and saxophone squawks from guest Skerik while “Repeating Night” uses mechanized beats in a Depeche Mode inspired new wave/gothic way around defeatist political lyrics.   

The music remains detached and oddly timid until album closer “The Void” tries to kick start things going full-on slamming punk with big drums, protest gospel vocals and power tool revving guitar fuzz, but it is all a too little too late.

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