Algier The Underside of Power
Of this year’s musical rebukes of the Trump presidency—see Kendrick Lamar, Roger Waters, Joey Bada$$ and Moby—none resonate or defy pop conventions quite like Algiers’ sophomore album, a fiery condemnation of the president, Brexit, bigotry and the global power structure.
The Atlanta quartet elevates its post-punk charge and industrial dystopia with gospel vocals—courtesy of frontman Franklin James Fisher and, less frequently, sampled choir harmonies—resulting in a seamless, clarion version of urban blues. There’s a riot goin’ on in “Cleveland,” a churning, righteously aggrieved stew of thunderous beats, taser-click loops, cross-sectioned hosannas and Fisher’s soaring tremolos. If “Cleveland” is pure post-millennial tension, the radio-baiting title track is an ebullient—albeit heavily programmed—update of classic R&B that spazzes and swings equally. And Fisher dissects the neofascist response to Obama’s eight years on the punky “Animals”: “And now the old man’s walking around and around/screaming, ‘It’s my turn!’” From the entitled cacophony of Trump rallies springs Algiers’ glorious noise.