Algiers is a band a stumbled across by accident. I picked up this, their debut album, and slowly it infected me. I didn’t know at the time, and only just discovered it to contain ex-Bloc Party drummer Matt Tong. Not knowing much about drums, this is mostly just an interesting tidbit. I wasn’t too fond of the album at first, but slowly, with each listen, it grew and grew and now I think it might be one of my favorites for the year. It is a phenomenal debut album, and everyone should give it a listen. It combines many genres, including: Post-Punk, Gospel, Industrial, and maybe even Art-Rock. It is remarkable how well these sounds come together. For the best taste, I’d pop in some head phones, noise cancelling if you got ’em, and just listen. It is a strangely consuming experience.
“Remains” – The opener is an absolutely amazing track and is a great start. It builds slowly and is filled with so much emotion and energy. Somehow despite its moody and a bit oppressive sound, it is still a bit danceable. On first listen this track stood out as the albums star, but with each subsequent listen I’ve found a different track speaks to me.
“Claudette” – This second track borders on gospel at times. It is groovy and dark, sounding a bit like a sort of dark hymn. It is a really strong track that blends multiple genres including gospel, industrial and some very atmospheric post-punk.
“And When You Fall” – This might be my favorite track on the album. Again it has a masterful slow build, but at about 50 seconds in all hell breaks loose. The bass line kicks in and the track sky rockets. I challenge you to listen to it and not dance at least a little bit.
“Blood” – This one is a big step down in regards to pacing. The track is a good slow contrast to the first three tracks. It shows some diversity from the band, but fails to quite bring the same feeling or energy. It does pick up a bit before the end of the album, but still never quite rises as high in my esteem.
“Old Girl” – After the slower “Blood”, “Old Girl” brings us back to reality. “Blood” is the vacation to a softer place, and “Old Girl” brings us back full force into Algiers‘ style. It is a strong and danceable rock track. It is possibly the most catchy track on the album.
“Irony. Utility. Pretext.” – Did I just enter the world of the terminator? The intro to this track reminds me so much of a post-apocalyptic future, I just can’t shake it. It features a strong beat and memorable melody, that is remarkable similar to the Terminator theme tune. This track is quite fun and a bit different from the others, but much like “Blood” it isn’t quite as good.
“But She Was Not Flying” – This sounds like something Julian Casablancas + The Voidz would produce. The start is a little drone, with faded vocals and instruments, but soon it picks up in clarity and quality. It is a cool start that makes the track stand out. It sounds unique but still somehow fitting to the albums greater thematic feeling.
“Black Eunuch” – Again, this track has so much energy. It dances through multiple genres. It has an extremely addictive guitar riff. “Black Eunuch” takes much of what the other tracks before did and improves upon them. I don’t know if I can choose which is better “Black Eunuch” or “And When You Fall”. Both are fantastic tracks.
“Games” – “Games” is a bit moody and soft, but strangely addictive. It has its own sound unique to the ablum. Slower than “Blood” and much much better. The atmosphere and pacing of “Games” makes for a really haunting sound. It works well to showcase the bands overall talent. They can masterfully create an album loaded with tons of amazing tracks that fit well together, but don’t ever really blur together.
“In Parallax” – This is a step back towards the darker selves. It has a slow groove that sounds downright sinister. It’s not their best track, but still quite strong. When I say things are a step down for Algiers that only is a sign of how great some of the other tracks are. On most other albums, “In Parallax”, “Blood”, “Irony. Utility. Pretext” would all be stand out tracks.
“untitled” – Without a doubt the albums worst track, but it is forgivable. It is the albums last track, and works mostly as reprise, touching on the thematic elements found in all the previous tracks. It is dark and atmospheric, but lacking in clear melody or vocals, instead sounding more like audio-collage or heavily sampled remix. Not enough to listen to alone, but a nice close to an incredible album.
Overall, this is an amazing album. I would argue that it is the best debut album I’ve heard in years and possibly one of the best this year. All the tracks work great together, flowing with similar sounds and themes. The band establishes a unique sound and still highlights their ability to perform a diverse selection of songs. I say it is a must listen that I can’t stop raving about. I can’t wait to see what they can produce for album #2. 5 out of 5 stars.