After their long absence, Death From Above 1979 are back! The Canadian band split a few years ago after their first brilliant album You’re a Woman, I’m A Machine, citing the usual “musical differences”. This album was so ground-breaking that numerous other bands since have struggled to recreate their unique sound, but no one has quite managed it.
But after reforming in 2011, their latest effort has finally been released to the salivating fans. Produced by Dave Sardy who has previously worked with Nine Inch Nails, Fall Out Boy, Rage Against the Machine as well as many other huge rock giants, people were holding their breath for a promising album, and they have definitely delivered.
The Physical World blasts into ‘Cheap Talk’, and you immediately know this is DFA1979 when you hear their distinctive dance-punk high-hats and cowbells smashing out a hugely danceable rhythm. The band picks up immediately from where they left off, seemingly having little difficultly in replicating the original raw sound that was so loved by their fans. For many bands, the second album is one of the hardest things they will ever do – take for instance The Stone Roses’ Second Coming – initially slated as it was a complete change of style for them. However Death From Above have risen to the challenge; perhaps their 5 year split plus 3 years working on the new record was enough to recharge their creative batteries so that they didn’t just churn out a rushed or generic copy of their first album.
The second song on The Physical World goes by the excellent title of ‘Right On, Frankenstein!’, and it does not disappoint. This song is three minutes and five seconds of pure unadulterated bad-assery, from its frantic guitar scales, to its pounding rhythm, this song makes you want to jump into a beat-up car and screech off into the desert yelling ‘I don’t wanna die but I wanna be buried, meet me at the gates of the cemetery’. I have absolutely no idea what this song is about (possibly zombies?), but that doesn’t stop it being kick ass.
‘Virgins’ is a foot-stomping wall of noise, while the tone of ‘Always On’ has a slightly melancholy tinge, and the lyrics will resonate very strongly with anyone who owns a smartphone and/or a twitter. Presumably when DFA1979 first started out, 24/7 social media etcetera wasn’t such a problem, but now their reunion album has been streamed, shared, released on Spotify, and presumably been tweeted about hundreds of times, and it must be alien to them compared to their first release.
‘Trainwreck 1979’ was the first taster of the album, released back in July. Though it starts off slowly, a superb structure of build-ups leading to incredibly catchy melodies and the chorus “I can’t get enough!” make this one of the best tracks on the album, in terms of listenability. The track fades out to the sound of stomping feet – then DFA1979 smashes back in with ‘Nothin’ Left’, and then their second lead single ‘Government Trash’ with its racing guitars and distorted vocals. The album closes with the eponymous track ‘The Physical World’, which lurches from slower verses to furious shouted choruses, and serves to showcase everything the band have got to offer.
Death From Above 1979 – They’ve absolutely still got it.