Review Summary: I'm out of rage, maybe it's my age?
As cynical as it sounds, some things should be a distant memory. In the case of Death From Above 1979’s revival, I quite often muse over whether their coming back was a good thing or not, given what they’d left behind. A band that had a scintillating beginning, with their exceptional post-punk debut album, before burning out and having the wheels fall off the wagon only a few years later; caused by the band’s uncomfortably sour relationship. In 2005, just a year after their first album, they called it a day and vowed never to return. This was down to their anaemic friendship, but also because Jesse and Sabastian felt the band had ran its course; 1 LP and several fantastic EPs, and then it was over. During the course of their 9-year break-up DFA 1979’s fanbase was still growing, with a perpetual demand for the duo to return - and with little success. I was definitely one of those people, and who could blame me? The uncompromising power and energy that came from this two-piece was a crazy sight to behold. And with their album, You’re A Women, I’m A Machine
, they proved they were lightyears ahead of the game. They pulled the plug at a time where many believed they had so much more to offer; the years moved on, while the music world continued to evolve.
Nearly dormant for a decade, the band made a surprising return in 2014, but was met with a pickling turn of events; another band – a two-piece – was taking up radio-play with their well-received, smash debut. Now, on a surface level, it would be ignorant of me to compare the two bands just because they consist of bass and drums and play rock music, but the fact remains, when DFA 1979 returned to the fold with their sophomore album, it had glaring similarities to that of Royal Blood’s effort. Obviously, this was just a coincidence, but it showcased a turning point for the band, one which brought a realisation on how much had changed in their slumber: they were no longer the innovative spearheads of a movement anymore. That’s not to take anything away from their second offering, The Physical World
contained a lot of really stellar moments, and delivered a nice, well-rounded maturity on their sound; the problem was, it was 9 years too late.
So, here we are in 2017, and it seems Royal Blood and DFA 1979 are dropping releases in the same year (again). The band should be fully accustomed to what Royal Blood are offering at this point, and one would hope Sabastian and Jesse are set to bring a serious shake up in their sound, to prevent further comparisons, and prove their genius again. However, the lead up to Outrage! Is Now
, I can’t say I was feeling the need to jump into this thing with open arms; their singles for this album were met with a lukewarm reception by me – a sound sorely lacking in their signature bite: even softer; even more melodic; and closing any distinction between what these guys are creating and what Royal Blood are. Even listening to Outrage! Is Now
, the initial worries still resonate prominently throughout: Sebastian’s vocal work is eerily similar to Mike’s at points, while their newer, slower, fuzzy tempo-d grooves run in-between the lines of sounding like Royal Blood meets Black Sabbath.
In all honesty, Outrage! Is Now
runs low on its own character, so the obvious question would be: “Is the album horrible to listen to?” And thankfully, I can say no, it’s actually a surprisingly fun album to listen to. The true saving grace of Outrage! Is Now
is found in the same redeeming qualities I got from their second album: experimentation. Though this record reserves these moments to a certain point in a song, and are largely bite-sized samples than fully fleshed-out pieces of a track, they are brilliant moments: the Floyd-y tinge in the album closer “Holy Books”, the avant-garde outro of “NVR 4EVR”, and the haunting electronics nestled under “Statues” add spice and interest; while a couple of tracks get a bigger injection of excitement: “Outrage! Is Now” and “Moonlight” contain standout moments that offer different sounds to what you’d expect from these guys, and help fight full-on fatigue; “Moonlight” in particular is probably the standout song on the whole album, simply for its super bleak atmosphere and brutal attacks from the bass and drums, but the self-titled track has such a distinct, thumping and sinister verse, it instantly piqued my interest. Other highlights come from the electronic contributions which heighten sections and brighten up any of the derivative grooves or riffs which the album frequently offers.
Overall, I have to say, this isn’t the disaster I was expecting. DFA 1979 have succeeded in maintaining the same level of quality as their sophomore release. It’s their worst LP to-date, sure, but it doesn’t say much, as I still thoroughly enjoyed a lot of what this had to offer. As it stands, it’s an album that sits firmly in the middle of the crowd than one at the front of it, which is sad to say, given the innovation they once possessed the first time around. But when the album is this fun, who cares?
SPECIAL EDITION: N/A