Death From Above 1979: The Physical World (Last Gang Records)
LP, CD, D/L
“Don’t ever change – bad is good enough” may be one of the best lines on Death From Above 1979’s first album in a decade, but it couldn’t be further from describing their successful sophomore album.
Just like they did a decade ago, these Canadian bad boys churn out a solid release that makes you want to get down in more than one way, hitting that sweet, hard to strike spot – producing something just different enough to avoid redundancy, which they were at high risk of with a sound so specific.
Compared to the abrasive music with which I used to drive out pesky customers that wouldn’t vacate the bar I worked in at the end of the night over a decade ago (such as their 2002 debut EP, Heads Up), the evolved sound on The Physical World has to do with delivery and production rather than structure or songwriting tendencies.
It’s slightly more dance than punk now, less rough and raw and as such, more accessible – but not in a deplorable manner – serving instead as a logical counterpart to their previous work. DFA continue to deliver their own brand of sexy, danceable heaviness, packing a punch from start to finish with their signature crunchy grooves.
The first single, Trainwreck 1979, one of the weakest songs on the album – feeling somewhat forced and overproduced – concerned me, especially as I never managed to get behind the guys’ other projects (Keeler and Grainger are like Morrissey and Marr to me). Thankfully, it’s a false alarm and they manage to infuse their old sound with the right elements from their other projects: less discordant, Grainger uses his voice in a more skilled, refined manner and the danciness of MSTRKRFT influences in a positive way.
The suspenseful, positive rock bridge on Right On, Frankenstein is epic, while Virgins, one of the strongest songs, showcases the album’s tendency to make you want to turn parts of songs up (and usually bridges over choruses – a real accomplishment).
The drive in Crystal Ball is reminiscent of Corey Hart’s Sunglasses at Night while the riff in Gemini brings Gary Numan’s Are ‘Friends’ Electric? to mind. The full on power and integrity of Cheap Talk and Government Trash make for instalments that struggle to contain themselves, like all the best old Death From Above tracks.
All words by Lisa Sookraj, find her Louder Than War archive here.