REVIEW: Algiers – There Is No Year

Imagine if you will that I am Will.I.Am. It’s an episode of The Voice. Those good people at Picky Bastards have arranged for me to fill in. If you’ve never watched an episode of The Voice before, basically me and Tom Jones and Meghan Trainor and Olly Murs sit in big red chairs facing an audience and people come on and sing and we can only judge them on the power of their voices or their performance, depending on how you look at it. On this occasion, as I fill in for Will.I.Am, Algiers comes on. I have no idea about Algiers at all. I just sit, steeple my fingers, crease my brow and listen…

You hear a synth (straight out of an Erasure offcut) and jittery drums not unlike LCD Soundsystem. And then you have a vocal that sounds like a theatre school kid trying too hard. You can imagine a bright eyed desperate sort swishing through the air with hands as if they are skiing as they sing. It’s the title song. To say it’s pitched at a level only ever slightly below histrionic is something of an understatement. You get the sense that McAlmont would listen to this and think, calm down a bit mate.

Track 2, ‘Dispossession’, is from the same playbook. You can picture the scene: the singer has made it through the seat round of The Voice. Algiers is in a studio with Tom Jones, say. There’s a piano. There are four or five people who once sang backing vocals for James Brown trying to convince us that this is really fucking BIG and IMPORTANT. The lead singer of Algiers (who is called Franklin James Fisher) gives it his literal all. To give him his due: he sings as if his life depends on it. It’s just that it all sounds a bit… Imagine Dragons.

At which point I’d kind of decided it wasn’t for me so I went away and read about Algiers (which is what I do) and politically me and Algiers would get on. We both seem to be worried about pretty much everything, we both think that Jarvis Cocker has it right about certain see you next Tuesdays running the world. He’s singing about climate change (‘Wait for the Sound’), and Syria possibly (‘Hour of the Furnaces’) and Chaka Khan, possibly (‘Chaka’). It’s just that it all sounds a little bit Lee John circa 1990.

So: Algiers. Heart in the right place, very definitely. Definitely not for me.

Words by Pete Wild

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