Algiers’ “Chaka” is a masterclass in tension and release

Jeff Terich
Algiers new album There Is No Year

Late last year Algiers released “Can the Sub_bass Speak?“, a standalone single that brought them well outside of their already complex yet defined aesthetic with something that sounded more like free-jazz Gil Scott-Heron. Vocalist Franklin Fisher delivers an epic airing of grievances via listing off the stereotypes or cringeworthy criticisms they’ve received (“You ain’t punk rock/You ain’t hip-hop—what is this?“). There’s nothing like that on the band’s new album There Is No Year, and “Sub_bass” would have, in context, not made sense among its eerier post-punk Blade Runner vibes.

One element of that song did find its way on to the album, however: A furious, skronky no-wave saxophone solo right at the center of album highlight “Chaka.” A synth-pop banger that carries ominous vibes with the press of each glowing synth key, “Chaka” feels like teleportation into a much sexier dystopia than the incredibly embarrassing one we currently face. Fisher, in keeping with that vibe, offers his own cryptic warnings: “You better change your tune, boy/Because you won’t believe the consequence.” But just as the tension mounts, in comes that saxophone, piercing the surface like a blade through canvas. It’s a truly beautiful noise.

From There Is No Year, out now via Matador.

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