Death From Above 1979: The Physical World Album Review

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Taking Dance-Punk as we know it today back to Le Tigre makes sense as they sound like LCD Soundsystem crossed with Death From Above 1979 (is it ironic that DFA 1979 added the ‘1979’ to not confuse them with James Murphy’s [LCD Soundsystem’s] record label DFA?) But anyway, 10 years after Death From Above’s debut album, they are finally back with The Physical World.

I will definitely say, from the single ‘Trainwreck 1979’ that the duo’s sound is more poppy. It’s catchier and listening to the album again and again has made me like the lead single more than when it was just ‘the lead single’. 

‘Cheap Talk’ may be the album opener but DFA really are ‘back’ with ‘Right On, Frankenstein’ that sounds like it could have come off their debut album just with better production. In the 10 years where the band broke up, got back together and recorded The Physical World their sound hasn’t changed all that much, they are still just as recognisable but their sound is much cleaner, it’s smoother and less raw, which almost works against itself. The appeal of their debut was that it was so noisy and quick and a majestic strangled fury, but this new album makes up for that being catchy and having as much riffs (better riffs) as Royal Blood’s debut. 

‘Virgins’ is heavy, the drop tuned bass really sounding fat and sludgy like a swamp has swallowed up all of Canada wondering ‘where have all the virgins gone?’. And to follow up this insanely catchy head banging energetic bass power is ‘Always On’ sounding like a heavier Yeah Yeah Yeahs Punk Dance off which steam-rolls into ‘Crystal Ball’ that fits in some synths in the chorus which just lift the song that little bit higher and make sure the music doesn’t feel stale.

‘White Is Red’ is strangely subdued and heartfelt, a change of direction for the band but they get away with it due to the position of the song being mid-stream so it just somehow works in the flow of the album making for that soft gooey centre inside any good triple chocolate cake.

‘Trainwreck’ is very close to being the best track on the album, the use of synths on the album is subtle but really add to the feel of the album. They fit in really well with DFA’s foot-stomping barrage of percussive Dance Punk. ‘Government Trash’ is furious but sadly fades into the worst track, an utterly horrible ‘Gemini’, a song that has a chorus that reminds me of that horrible Good Charlotte song ‘Birthday’ (okay, so the verse isn’t that bad but the chorus falls apart on itself and it does have this really cool post-chorus bit). However ‘Government Trash’ does have a warbled refrain of ‘Turn It Out’ from their debut You’re A Woman, I’m a MachineThe Phsyical World does have these really cool bits at the end of its songs that are a nice touch.

But the album finale is an angry beast that is ready to tear you apart. The rising synth arpegiated twirls that open ‘The Physical World’ make way to a song that’s almost on a Prog level for the band running for almost 5 minutes that actually gives Muse a run for their money. The track gives way to a bass solo I guess, where the focus is all about Jesse F. Keeler riffing on his bass, sending to hell and resurrecting it with an old timey vignette sound clip that closes the album off  until the trademark DFA scream finally puts the nail in the coffin and we the listener are just are playing it all over again.

Take it all in because the band will probably break up soon and release their third album in 2024, you better be good at waiting.

8.4

Listen here.

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