‘There Is No Year’, the third album from Atlanta-formed Algiers, is a further exploration of the sound they’ve become renowned for: a heady concoction of post-punk, ’60s soul, gospel and noise, all underpinned by highly politicised lyrics. It is a considered project that showcases their growth as a four-piece (former Bloc Party drummer Matt Tong became an official member in 2017).
Where their last project, ‘The Underside of Power’, came on the back of the Black Lives Matter movement, Brexit and the results of the 2016 American presidential election, ‘There Is No Year’ sounds like a considered rumination on political turmoil.
The lyrics here are urgent and much more precise than those of the album’s predecessor. Rather than admonishing and preaching, Algiers offer a searing critique and a hopeful call to arms. It’s a tough balancing act to pull off act, but makes for a much more digestible album.
Take ‘Dispossession’, the second track on the album. “Run around / Run away from your America / While it burns in the streets / I been here standing on top of the mountain / Shouting down what I see”, sings lead vocalist Franklin James Fisher. This may read as a holier-than-thou attitude – an allegation you could reasonably level at their last project – but Algiers regularly pull back. His voice caressed by a piano, the bridge Fisher gently and hopefully sing: “Seen the kings and the soldiers / Overthrown and consumed / Run and tell it to everybody underground / Freedom is coming soon”.
There are so many diverse sounds on ‘There is No Year’. It helps that the band are influenced by so many different genres that they can easily float between them without changing their sound. Discordant guitars and rapid-fire beats comprise most of the album, but lithe piano and pared-back instrumentation weave its way in, ensuring the record’s tone is evened out. ‘Chaka’ belongs in the ‘70s, with its disco-influenced synths, guitars and simple drum beats.
This balance means the band’s lyrical message are delivered with more clarity.The band continue to be radical, but rather than being reactionary, ‘There is No Year’ is precise, thoughtful and powerful.