Y’all. Algiers are back.
If that hasn’t already sent palpitations down your spine, then let me elaborate. These prodigal sons of Atlanta shook the record-buying public back in 2015 with their Matador debut, a searing blend of combative soul and gospel with starved-thin industrial beats and screeching guitars. Giving voice to the group’s hymns of outrage and defiance was Franklin James Fisher, a frickin’ dynamo of a vocalist who dissected institutional racism and corrupt power structures with a mix of harrowing insight and caustic indignation. Revolutionary times call for renegade voices, and Algiers were more than willing to take up the mantle.
And clearly, from the look and sound of new single “The Underside of Power,” the band is ready to knock the world off their seats yet again. The video, set in the secret lair of a group of underground resistance fighters, is stacked with intent: between the archived clips of civil rights protests, a desecrated Nazi flag in the corner, and lines like “broken shards / are all we are sometimes,” it’s understood that the real “crime” here has been perpetuated for decades against blacks and minorities in America and around the globe. But while Algiers bring back their sinister Suicide shuffle, “Underside” soars higher into Northern Soul than ever before; guitarist Lee Tesche tones down his snarling axe for some mega-soul power riffs to match Ryan Mahan’s groovy bass line. Fisher, too, sounds more determined than before, as if the rebels in the video could indeed tear down their oppressors: “It’s just a game that can’t go on / it could break down any hour.”
And you might think that a more militant Algiers would be too strident, but hell no. Electricity crackles through both video and song, a very palpable sense that something momentous is about to go down, and we’ll be right in the thick of it when the action bursts.
Algier’s sophomore LP, The Underside of Power, is out June 23 via Matador Records. Pre-orders are available here.