Algiers
The Underside of Power


4.5
superb

Review

by neekafat CONTRIBUTOR (58 Reviews)
June 27th, 2018 | 27 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A political review.

America is in a much darker place than when Algiers released their debut. While their self-titled work was far more ominous, almost foreshadowing the coming struggles, The Underside of Power dives headfirst into the danger and anger of a country divided. Since Trump began his campaign for the presidency, the nation has grown more and more divided, something that has not slowed down since his election. Tensions continue to rise on nearly every issue from race relations to environmentalism. It’s hard to not be afraid of the thought of the country tearing apart at the seams as the middleground continues to disappear completely. But while many fear it, Algiers eagerly await collapse.

“Walk Like a Panther” immediately bludgeons the listener over the head as an abrasive anti-anthem. As Franklin James Fisher caterwauls over blistering guitars and glitchy beats, the track features a fusion of rock, soul, gospel, hip-hop, and countless other influences, blending them into a momentously powerful call for uprising against the Man. While this opener is inarguably the standout track, the album doesn’t get any less engaging from here, if only less thrilling.

The following two tracks are also highlights, “Cry of the Martyrs” continuing the bleak frustration with oppressive guitars and a vengeful-sounding choir, while the title track allows us to let off a little steam with a surprisingly upbeat look at revolution, sounding almost like a party at the start of the apocalypse. The rest of the record drips with limitless reverb and distortion, creating an atmosphere just as unique as the amazing mix of genres displayed on every track. It’s near-impossible and completely futile to try to pin down the “genre” of this release, but from song to song specific influences can be pinned down, like the soulful title track and the near-piano ballad “Mme Rieux.” It all adds to the otherworldly quality of the release, which makes it both more and less terrifying. More because of how alien and disjointed the album is, and less because this surreality makes it perhaps too easy for the audience to cast it to the side as overdramatic and unhinged from the reality we all live in. Does it impact the music negatively? No. If anything, it improves it. But it could be argued that the call to action might be damaged, if that was their true intent at all.

If the album has any real fault, it’s the repetition of similar sounds as it goes on. Disappointingly, “The Cycle/The Spiral” is one of these tracks, closing out the album in a near-monotonous fashion, far worse than the album deserves. While the song is good in its own right, its unexciting compared to the originality and daring nature of the tracks before it. A couple songs in the middle of the album ,such as “A Murmur. A Sign.,” are just as lovely as their surrounding brethren, but tend to get lost in their hazy atmospheres before being able to reach out and really do anything thrilling.

These problems are easy to forgive and even forget when looking at the release as a whole. As a piece of art there were far more moving and dynamic works last year, but none made as effective and exciting a statement as this. It’s purely leftist outlook is sure to be irksome to others, but no matter what side you take, the deft and daring musicianship must be obvious. And even if it doesn’t end up predicting a terrible possibility for America, it will forever serve as a snapshot of a country divided for future generations to behold.



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user ratings (130)
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
June 27th 2018


17134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Cannot believe this didn't have a review yet

As always, massive thanks to blush for the helping hand with edits!

Papa Universe
June 27th 2018


22441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Cannot believe your review is 4.5, but your overall rating is 4.0.

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
June 27th 2018


17134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Oops, didn't change that yet

Over the course of writing the review I realized this was indeed a 4.5

Papa Universe
June 27th 2018


22441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

pretty much disagree with the politics, but this is fantastic.



as for the review:

pretty much disagree with the politics, but this is fantastic.



the underside of POS

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
June 27th 2018


17134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Aw thanks papi (:

onionbubs
June 27th 2018


12110 Comments


isnt this the band with bloc partys old drummer in it?

Digging: Counterparts - Nothing Left to Love

JWT155
June 27th 2018


14464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The opening track is such a banger.

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
June 27th 2018


25019 Comments


"But it could be argued that the call the action might be damaged" - call to action ? either way doesnt make sense id fix it

nice one tho andrew, i appreciate how you semi-delicately handled the political angle on this one

also def a personal opinion but if youre givin it a 4.5 I'd say omit the "negatives" of the album or keep em v v minimal / subtle (instead of dedicating an entire para for them). I understand the urge to highlight why it isn't perfect but I think you could handle bringing it up in a lighter manner

Ignimbrite
June 27th 2018


6570 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Can't believe this only just got a review. One of the best albums of 2017.



Underside of Power is amazing.

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
June 27th 2018


17134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks for that Con, didn't catch that!

And yes, I think I leaned into the negatives a bit much because this was originally a 4.0 for me but over the course of reviewing it I realized it was more like a 4.5

You should give this a listen if you haven't already dude!

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
June 27th 2018


25019 Comments


im familiar with these guys, def will try to give it a proper listen soon!

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
June 27th 2018


17134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

At least give the opener a peek, JWT is right!

@Ignimbrite same, I was surprised no one stole it before me

bgillesp
June 27th 2018


7056 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pos. Was too late for the inb4 Papi-boner but oh well

TheSonomaDude
June 28th 2018


6875 Comments


this sounds like it will be awesome. great review man

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
June 28th 2018


17134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks dude!

DoofusWainwright
June 28th 2018


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

I forgot about this

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
June 28th 2018


17134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Of course you 1'd this Doof....

brandontaylor
June 28th 2018


873 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this might just be a me problem but this bands entire sound is kinda corny to me... some good tunes tho

DoofusWainwright
June 28th 2018


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

It’s fucking corny [2]



🌽 /5

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
June 28th 2018


17134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

How is this corny? Genuinely curious



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