The release of clipping’s 2019 record There an Existed an Addiction to Blood was a huge indulgence for my listening habits. I am drawn to deeply engaging ambience, particularly that of the gloomy kind. A glorified mood junkie, if you will. As such, I was immediately taken to Algiers’ latest release.
There Is No Year has all the ingredients for an immersive journey through fateful terrors of the past, yet after multiple listens something about it began to feel strangely disconcerting. The atmosphere is sumptuously dark, and when Algiers really hit the spot, the result is absolutely thrilling. “Hour of The Furnaces” is one such moment, with its eerie verses engulfed in tension, and a vivid chorus that sees Franklin James Fisher repeating a troubling prophecy: ‘we all dancing to the fire.’
Such dramatic climaxes are curiously rare, however. Throughout much of its run-time, There is No Year seems content revelling in its own (admittedly awe-inspiring) ambience. With their radical politics and instrumental passages draped in dread, it feels like Algiers are about to burn the house down at any moment. But the record never truly explodes until the very end, and does so with the disappointingly drab “Void”, essentially sounding like NIN’s “March of the Pigs” without any of the weight.
Following 2017’s brutally beautiful Underside of Power, There is No Year feels light in comparison, and even slightly unfinished. A record full to the brim, bursting with potential for something greater than what it ultimately settles for. Personally recommended, albeit with a significant caveat.
7 out of 10
There Is No Year left a fantastic first impression, but that’s as good as it got. It’s surprised me how little growing power the album has. It has an awful lot going for it. It feels contemporary in ways few albums manage. The arrangements are slick and dynamic, cruising a fine line somewhere between industrial and electronic music. It’s a super original sound, but not for the sake of it. That’s just Algiers’ bag, baby.
It’s a shame then that the album never quite capitalises on its foundation. The overall sound generates a real buzz, but song to song there is a fair amount of blur. The only proper variety that stands out in my mind is “Losing Is Ours”, which sinks into a murkier, more atmospheric space than the rest of the album seems comfortable with. “Wait for the Sound” also dabbles in subtler textured sounds, but by and large the songs merge into one big groove.
On the upside, listening to this has sent me sniffing around Algiers’ previous material, and it is pretty rad. I appreciate at least that they’re not resting on their laurels. If this album helps the group get to where it needs to go then you’ll hear no further complaints from me. There Is No Year is a rigorous project that feels very much of the moment. Though it hasn’t taken off a much as I initially hoped it would, I look forward to whatever’s next.
7 out of 10
On the face of it, Algiers’ latest is an exciting album. The blend of gospel, Kid A-era Radiohead, Massive Attack, and Bloc Party, among others, is intriguing. Sadly, after a week of attempting to understand it, I can’t help but feel that the album is largely an aping of its influences, lacking the edge to make it deliver on the promise.
It’s distinctive, sure, but music with such sharp, harsh tones and supposedly cascading denouements should feel more hair-raising. For whatever reason, there’s an emotional disconnect between the composition and listening experience that I can’t resolve, like the more enticing and moreish elements are being kept closely guarded. Crescendos fall strangely flat, and the ebb and flow of each track can feel disjointed and unsatisfying. The first half is more engaging than the second, and even at 40 minutes this can feel like a long album. It’s rarely a good sign if I’m checking how many tracks I have left before I can focus on something else.
Algiers’ previous album, The Underside of Power, is a much more successful alchemy, feeling vital and energising, but – more damningly – memorable. Maybe in future I’ll return to There is No Year and whatever I can’t see will suddenly become clear, but for now I don’t feel any inclination to try again.
5 out of 10