If 2017’s The Underside of Power was Algiers confirming their place as an angry, protest sound for restless days and nights, follow up, 2020s There Is No Year, as well as new album, SHOOK, represent something a little more subdued – a kind of consolidation of the forceful steamroller soul that powered their early sound.
Franklin James Fisher is still front and centre with the lightning rod energy, his unflinchingly passionate voice Algiers’ focal point, but SHOOK, by design, is also a more communal affair than much of their previous work. Ballasted by a host of guest vocalists, this album might be a love letter to and about Atlanta, but its energy and sprawling style owe as much to the procession of personalities it houses as it does to Algiers’ familiarly dynamic sound. ‘Irreversible Damage’ is intense and claustrophobic, building upon an edgy, sweaty momentum with a verse from the once-elusive Zack de la Rocha; ‘73%’ seethes with the chop shop guitars and frenzied, melodic neurosis of At The Drive-In; and ‘Cleanse Your Guilt Here’ puts a slower, Vicodin twist on Mos Def’s ‘Ms. Fat Booty’.
It makes for a characteristically switch-the-radio-dial kind of listen, station-hopping through static. The soul and spoken-word interludes of ‘As it Resounds’ and ‘Born’ salve the dramatic Run The Jewels-does-gospel-energy of ‘Bite Back’ and the serrated punk punch of ‘A Good Man’. If previous Algiers albums were incendiary warning flares, Shook is more of a community firework display; there’s a little more joy and hope when the smoke clears.
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