Thursday, June 29, 2017

Algiers : " The Underside of Power"

When people got all excited about the Zeal & Ardor album, I was underwhelmed as I had already heard Algiers who may not dive into the metal trapping but does what Zeal and Ardor does better in terms to the feeling they evoke. They are still dark and angry on their album, with what feels like a hip hop beat to the opening "Walk Like A Panther" . The vocals are all over the place in the tradition of gospel.There is a rough distorted filter over them. It doesn't strike me as having the same polished sense of songwriting. The programmed drums don't have as commanding of a pound as I remember these guys having. I remember my ex-wife telling me she didn't like these guys because they reminded her too much of hip-hop and while I didn't hear that then I can hear it now.

They rein the songwriting in on the title track. The chorus has more of a hook, though the mood is lighter and it feels more like 60's garage pop. So far "Death March " is the most interesting song on the album as the guitars sound like something from Twin Peaks and the vocals work with the groove rather than rage against it. "A Murmur, a Sign" is not as compelling and meanders without committing. The song after is is not any better. It's not until "Cleveland' that the album reconnects for me. I think this song finds all the elements that work for them in good working order.  "Animals" has almost a punk energy to it's ranting vocals. "Plague Years"  drones on to set a mood , but is more of an interlude than an actual song.

The piano driven "Hymn for an Average Man" is another study in droned texture, but benefits from the crooned vocals. There is a similar interlude of atmosphere after this song and before the closing song that has more energy . The tempo is brisk and every thing should be clicking for m, but it isn't this might be because it's not as dark. There is much less tension over all and I would not call it post-punk, but indie rock. I'll round this down to a 7.5 as I don't think it comes close to what they did on the previous album and the strong songs are not as numerous. It's not a bad album I am just disappointed because I know they have done better.


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