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Algiers | There Is No Year

The Atlanta gospel-punks take a novel approach with their third studio release.


“In the FBI file on the American rock ‘n’ roll band Algiers — which given their prior penchant for repping the Black Panthers, Malcolm X, Angela Davis, and Afeni Shakur, among others, surely exists — under the subheading for their third album, There is No Year, the intelligence should soon read: all prior analytics appear outdated… this undoes everything we thought we knew about their intentions…what hides inside them… as if they are mutating live on camera, between frames… From the instant synth-pulse of the opening seconds of There is No Year, it’s clear that Algiers have set out to stake new ground, internally as much as sonically. At the forefront of this evolution is the centrality of power housed in Algiers’ multi-instrumentalist lead vocalist, Franklin James Fisher, whose voice and words provide the backbone of the album, his lyrics sourced entirely from an epic poem, Misophonia, composed during his search for meaning amidst a protracted personal period of anxiety and lack. “What I wanted to do is create a negative space wherein I can exist and engage but at the same time not be so exposed,” Fisher explains. He speaks of the record’s perspective as not only a political apparatus, but an intimate, responsive evocation of his understanding that “nothing is ever what you expect”, that what might seem for now to be well known or assured is not always so, that there is no safety net. The effect, as felt on the record, is undeniable: Fisher sounds like he is singing for his life — for all our lives, really — baring his soul while the walls disintegrate around us.”


There aren’t a lot of albums out there that make me want to read a damn book. But AlgiersThere Is No Year is most assuredly one of them. That’s not some cheap-ass shot across their creative bow and fevered brow; if anything, it’s probably in keeping with their impressive artistic intent. The synth-fuelled, politically minded Atlanta gospel-punks’ third album literally takes a novel approach, borrowing its handle from a contemporary haunted-house horror novel by author and friend Blake Butler (who also penned their press bio above). Presumably, it also takes its claustrophobic aural landscape, paranoid ambience and overall sense of impending doom from Blake’s pages — though in these stranger-than-fiction times, those qualities could just as easily be (and most likely were) inspired by any morning paper or nightly news broadcast. Either way, this potently creepy sucker is an insidiously addictive page-turner from the git-go. Just don’t hold your breath for a happy ending.