Monday, 20 January 2014

ALGIERS - ALBUM REVIEW

Algiers - You're The Captain (Xtra Mile Recordings) 
Algiers - You're The Captain

Release Date: 27th January 2014

Right, I need to declare a conflict of interests  before I start here. I spent three glorious years in Sheffield gorging myself on a burgeoning music scene that erupted in between Pulp and Arctic Monkeys. As a result, every time I hear of a new band coming along from Sheffield I get all nostalgic and misty eyed before even hearing a note. Algiers are, indeed, a duo from the Steel City but, fortunately for my reputation, they right fantastic, sweeping indie nuggets that entirely justifies their recent deal with Xtra Mile. Putting me in mind of the much missed Bennett, 'Mother' opens up this debut long player with pounding drums and chiming guitars that it's hard to ignore (why would you even bother trying?). The wonderfully entitled 'Miles and Miles of Rosary Beads' has a touch of the Young Knives about it which I am entirely in favour of and 'Indian Sweets' is more of the same with quick-fire snare work vocals akin to Frank Turner on a tuneful day or an American skate-pop band (let's say Fall Out Boy for the sake of argument). The understated intro to 'The Glue' suggests a band with a connection to the Highlands and perhaps a fair amount of Del Amitri or Deacon Blue in their CD collection but in a really good way. Does that make sense? Who cares.

One thing that sets this duo apart from the many others on the scene at the moment is their use of the drums as another instrument rather than just a beat keeper. This is particularly apparent on the Biffy Clyro meets Crazy Arm stomp of 'Lighthouse' where the tub thumping could be equally at home on a Viking long ship as it is on this song which seemingly extols the virtues of a tall girl with a bright face. The interplay between lyrical guitars and harmonious vocals of 'Flowers' makes it the perfect song for a sunrise over British wilderness scenes with startled wildlife and misty moors until that sunlight bursts through and the guitars thunder in with a life affirming energy. That Young Knives reference point is apparent again on 'Two Currents Of Sea Drifts' whilst album title track, 'You're The Captain' has a more epic, Snow Patrol-ish feel to it. The album finishes with an intriguingly titled duo of tracks; 'To The Beat Of A Marching Drum - Part 1 - Mechanics' and 'To The Beat Of A Marching Drum - Part 2 - On Resistance and Appeal: Our Wandered Finds Refuge Instigating Lament'. 'Part 1' is a bluesy, guitar lead twang in the vein of Mr J Cash or LWM favourites C.R. Thorn. 'Part 2', however, picks up the same melody and turns it in to a stadium filling piece of anthemic indie sumptuousness with that marching drum at the forefront. What Algiers seem to have achieved on this album is the ability to switch between the intimate and the enormous, the mainstream and the left-field and the sparse and the wall of sound effect. Well played Sheffield, as usual.


Live Dates:

31st January - Fallow, Manchester
1st February - The Harley, Sheffield
5th February - The Monarch, London

7th February - Westgarth Social Club, Middlesbrough 

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