After winning its independence from France in a brutal civil war, Algeria became a haven for liberation movements and revolutionaries from around the global South. Specifically the city of Algiers, which was home to a cast of “third world” dreamers from South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Angola, Vietnam and the US to name but a few. This radical reputation was further enshrined by the 1966 film The Battle of Algiers; a war movie which inspired both political insurgents and government agencies looking to snuff out revolution. In short, the name Algiers is a declaration of radicalism, a reminder of the most politically tumultuous decades of the last century.
In choosing this name, the US/UK band Algiers announced their desire to create insurgent rock music for our troubled times. The band- Franklin Fisher (guitar/vocals), Ryan Mahan (bass), Lee Tesche (guitar) and former Bloc Party member Matt Tong on drums, combine post-punk and noise with gospel and classic soul. Their previous two albums- Algiers (2015) and The Underside of Power (2017)- were both dystopian and anthemic. Perhaps, the best exemplar of this is the title track of The Underside of Power. Over dark production, Fisher’s soaring vocals speak of both revolutionary despair and militant optimism for radical change. It was one of the most salient rock songs of the last decade, capturing the confusion of an era of vast inequality, resurgent ethno-nationalism and climate chaos, while also reflecting the desperate yearning for something better.
The group has just dropped their third album There is No Year. Building on the grim intensity of their previous work, the album maintains the bands exciting mix of dread and insurgent hope. Lead single “Dispossession” is a gripping anthem which hinges on the line “run away from your America, while it burns in the streets”. The fantastic “Hour of the Furnaces” takes it up a notch with the disturbing chorus of “we all dance into the fire”. “Chaka” introduces unexpected bursts of jazz saxophone, while “We Can’t be Found” speaks of more personal, intimate demons. As with their previous work, the album is a slow burner. Its growling sense of menace may take listeners a while to connect with. But if you stick with There is No Year, you will soon find a wealth of aural riches. With their third album Algiers have proved themselves to be one of the most exciting and relevant rock bands working today.