Wih a focus on collaboration and community, Algiers’ incredible new album Shook is their most eclectic and striking to date

The Atlanta, US-based post-punk quartet Algiers have been at the forefront of some of the most dynamic, politically-charged music of the last decade or so. Their 2015 eponymous debut album set the scene for a group that doesn’t fear the unknown, rather embraces it. Sonically harsh and abrasive, often high-energy and deeply reflective, with colonial history and current political and social issues being at the forefront of their art. Shook, their fourth studio album, is their most striking to date and embraces community and the sharing of experience, more specifically Black experience, that has shaped their lived realities as well. 17 tracks and 54 minutes in length, it’s an ambitious body of work, desolate and dark in sound, and striking in its themes and pictures lead singer Franklin James Fisher and all the features are able to bring.

“Everybody Shatter” featuring Big Rube sets the tone for the album. The drum pads, bassline and Franklin’s emotive voice makes for an enthralling start to the album. “Irreversible Damage” featuring the legend Zach de la Rocha is another dynamic and firey moment, with dynamic drum-pad rhythms and a real sense of urgency in Franklin James Fisher’s voice, complementing the pace of the track perfectly. “Bite Back” featuring billy woods and Backxwash is as good as you would expect it to be, knowing how incredible both guest artists are. The dark and disorienting instrumental is complemented by dystopian, anti-establishment and anti-police lyricism that is both striking and utterly depressing. “Babylon System is the vampire, wants you to let him in / Police at the door knocking again and again / Claws rattling, delicate as roaches’ wings / Sweet saccharine, dopamine pour out the screens” spits billy woods with menace, highlighting the violence faced by Black and minority groups with such visceral and helpless energy. “I Can’t Stand It!” featuring Samuel T. Herring and Jae Matthews is another incredible track with such power, especially in Franklin and Samuel’s vocal performances. The groove on this track is complemented by infectious basslines and subtle synth leads, complemented by dynamic drumming that sets the pace throughout. “Green Iris” is one of my favourites in the album, with a choir of voices complementing Franklin’s vocals, with emotive keys and that create a beautiful melody, with claps and drums adding a rhythm to it that captures the energy of this track effortlessly. The gospel and blues influence is strong, and the track builds in energy and intensity in the final few minutes. There is pain behind Franklin’s voice, a deep-rooted pain as a result of generational trauma and violence. It’s a saddening song but captures the essence of Algiers’ music poignantly. LaToya Kent’s monologue on “Born” is chilling, while the disorienting “Something Wrong” is another exceptional moment on the album, with swirling synths and guitar leads that are punchy and incredibly powerful, adding to Franklin’s monotonous yet firey delivery. The final minute of the track is exceptional and shifts tone and energy drastically, while “An Echophonic Soul” featuring DeForrest Brown Jr. and Patrick Shiroishi is an emotive, jazzy masterpiece. “Momentary” featuring Lee Bains is a fitting closer, as Franklin wails “This is only momentary / Flay us for our skin / This is just monetary / We are all so innocent and dumb”. The powerful closer is optimistic, as the final phrase “When we die, our beloved, our kinfolk, fear not, we rise” brings hope out of necessity. Rising against racial injustice is the only way forward, and while the entire album focuses on the plight of Black people, it embraces the voices of those who are willing to try and make a difference, through art.

Algiers’ focus on collaboration throughout Shook makes it an eclectic, varied and incredibly potent body of work. A politically-charged artistic masterpiece, Algiers never shy away from expressing themselves to the fullest, with vulnerabilities and anger expressed in an unfiltered, raw and unapologetic manner, and is really one of the more striking albums to come out this year. Listen to it below and support!

Hey everyone, thanks for stopping by. I run In Search Of Media with the aim of giving a platform to independent beatmakers, rappers and talented musicians. I also hope to make this a home for music discovery, interesting film analysis, exhibition reviews and other interesting content for all of you guys to dive in to. I hope to start a podcast and documentary-style project soon. If you're looking to be a part of this creative project, please go to the contact page and drop me an email, or connect via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. I also write for 'Music Is My Sanctuary.' Thanks 🙏

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