“We want an immediate end to police brutality and murder of black people”. If you had doubts about the intentions of Algiers in playing music, this is the clearest explanation, contained in the “Cleveland” video, one of the songs in The Underside of Power. They use their music to struggle “this oppressive system. It is time for a complete reconfiguration of our societies.”
For the band from Atlanta, (composed by vocalist/guitarist Franklin James Fisher, bassist Ryan Mahan, guitarist Lee Tesche and drummer Matt Tong) music and politics are strongly connected. And their fight against oppression by authorities is carried on with an original formula based on post punk and soul.
Started with the masterpiece first album (Algiers, 2015), an astonishing flow of political activism and great songs, their path continues with the recent release for Matador, The Underside of Power, which shows influences from PIL, Suicide and similar bands. Their post punk (with the soul attitude of Franklin’s voice) is at service of left wing warnings against the brutality of neo liberism and the human rights violations made by post-democratic regimes. Their criticism is absolute and the dark mood of the album is its musical translation.
“Walk like a Panther” is a scary beginning, with its drum’n’bass structure and the distorted voice screaming its pain. “The Underside of Power” is the perfect mix between the dark and the soul sides of Algiers sound. Based on a deep bass line, the song explodes in an irresistible refrain: you cannot resist to shake your hands while listening to the best song of the album. “Cleveland” is a dramatic electronic gospel (really impressive). “Animals” is an astonishing punk song with dark and noise outcomes. In “Plague Years” it is easy to recognize the darkest Depeche Mode (Black Celebration period) or, if you prefer, the nightmares of Soft Moon.
The Underside of Power is, if possible, more obscure than the first album, and its strength is based on its solidity and the seriousness of its mood. Algiers are one of the most important bands of the decade and this is a wake up call for all of us.