Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Annual review

I make no apologies for repeating my view that Algiers' There Is No Year, released last Friday, is already a strong contender for the best album of 2020. Where I perhaps got it wrong, though, was in implying that its response to contemporary America is purely one of resigned nihilism; that's a factor, to be sure, but it's actually rather more complicated than that.

In an interview for the Guardian, bassist Ryan Mahan told Luke Turner: "If you're hopeful without pessimism, it's quite naive ... and if you're just pessimistic, it's fucking cynical." Frontman Franklin Fisher explained further: "The political situation is complex, so the ways of speaking about it must be complex because otherwise it's anachronistic, and that doesn't work for me."

He claimed, not without justification, that the record is in fact "redemptive and threatening and soothing and everything in between". Sadly, I suspect it's also probably too intense and challenging to achieve the commercial success that has thus far eluded them - such, unfortunately, is often the price of making genuinely impactful art.

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