Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Algiers

  • Algiers [Matador, 2015] **
  • The Underside of Power [Matador, 2017] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Algiers [Matador, 2015]
Industrial-strength gospel grunge good enough for and better than the politics of rage ("But She Was Not Flying," "And When You Fall") **

The Underside of Power [Matador, 2017]
Initially I thought they had the right idea and the wrong execution--in-your-face politics stretched past their stress threshold by a fusion of soul-rock histrionics and noise-metal aggression. But with fascists in my face too, I gave it another try, and gradually came to understand that electronics mean more to Algiers's guitar-bass-drums than Lee Tesche's ax--they're more Death Grips than Living Colour. "Cleveland"'s gunshots-as-whipcracks, "Plague Years"'s funereal techno, and "Bury Me Standing"'s Gregorian synths are less galvanizing than Death Grips' abrasives. But overwrought though he may be, Franklin James Fisher is more approachable than Stefan Burnett, and not just because he declines to weaponize his dick. Gospel warmth textures his every yowl as he calls out the powermongers, honors the martyrs, grieves for the dying world, and tries to stay on good terms with his mom. A-