Photo credit: Matador Records.
When gospel first emerged, practically all of its efforts were focussed on praising God and spreading his word. It was perhaps the most lyrical of genres, constantly rendering the music itself as little more than a conduit for the meaning contained within. If we accept this to be the case, then the origins of the style certainly have at least some common ground with Algiers’ latest record – an album which flips its overt gospel influence on its head, and uses it to further its own areligious ends and political messages.
Having been described by some as ‘dystopian soul’, Algiers blend their more traditional influences with a healthy dosage of post-punk and psychedelic soul. It works. Animals exhibits the kind of unadulterated acidity which would put the vast majority of metal bands to shame, whilst MME Rieux trades their usual rage and indignation for a more nuanced delivery, without losing any of the impact one would expect from Algiers. The record’s final offering (The Cycle/The Spiral: Time To Go Down Slowly) builds on a foundation of what I can only describe as mutant jazz, as the desolate vocals of Franklin James Fisher position themselves of a portent of whatever is to come.
The near-cathexis of the Underside of Power makes the focus of traditional gospel seem like little more than a casual interest in God. You’ve got three months to buy tickets to their Bristol show and witness their ascension.