Death From Above
The Physical World


4.0
excellent

Review

by paradox1216 EMERITUS
September 15th, 2014 | 19 replies


Release Date: 2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The virgins in Paris may be gone, but Death From Above 1979 is back.

When you think of a “rock band”, you probably envision four to five people with thousands upon thousands of people spread out before them as they bang out their tunes to an elaborate light show, each member carefully directing the crowd’s attention as the song exhibits each of their skills. No need to apologize – this is just the image that popular culture has cemented in our heads. But of course it’s possible to produce compelling music with fewer faces – power trios such as Rush and the early days of Revocation (not that the two have much in common sonically) easily prove that.

Canadian noisepunk band Death From Above 1979 became famous in 2004 not only for taking a minimalist approach to the concept of a “band” – it consists solely of members Sebastien Grainger and Jesse Keeler, both in the studio and at live shows – but for including no physical instruments other than Grainger’s drums and Keeler’s distorted bass/occasional synth. This creates a fairly empty and aggressive sound, which lent itself well to the raw atmosphere of their debut “You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine”. Their breakup just two short years later was a real tragedy for the music world, as there were still plenty of places their sound could have ventured. However, just as all things must end, all bands must reunite (apparently), and over the course of the current decade we were treated to more live shows and eventually an album announcement. So does “The Physical World” live up to the immense legacy of its predecessor? Well, no, but thankfully the reason is because it doesn’t try to – the album benches the noisier aspects of their sound in favor of a more melodic and disco-inspired approach.

The differences are most apparent at the opening – while “Machine” opened with what could be considered an all-out sonic assault, “The Physical World” gives us the comparatively restrained “Cheap Talk”, a dancy masterpiece that doesn’t shy away from feeling almost playful. The song also prominently pushes the tuneful side of Grainger’s vocals; instead of being mostly chromatic and shouty, his vocals now carry arguably more of the melody than the bass. This is used to full effect in songs like “White is Red”, which features hypnotic, subdued basslines that bring out the best in the already catchy choruses. People who are afraid the punk side has been completely thrown out the window should be appeased by bangers like “Right On, Frankenstein!” and “Government Trash”, and the title track shows off some of the more experimental and complex songwriting the band has to offer.

Going back and forth between tracks from the two albums, it’s easy to see how much more full “The Physical World” sounds than the debut, and little to no “cheating” is involved – it’s not that producer Dave Sardy has made two men sound like six men, it’s that he’s made two men sound like two men who are viciously assaulting you with their instruments. It’s rare to get a chance to see two instruments get to absolutely own the mix like this on a major label release with big name talent behind the production, and it lives up to the pedigree.

Overall, “The Physical World” can’t hope to be as influential or essential as its predecessor. With a difference of ten years, sometimes being the logical next step isn’t quite enough. But it’s a damn fine album in its own right: groovy, aggressive, catchy, and fun – sometimes separately and sometimes all at once.



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user ratings (302)
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
Rudy K. STAFF (3)
Indeterminate form....

WizardZombie (3.5)
10 years is a long wait, but hopefully the longest we have to wait for another DFA album...

brandaao (4)
Fact: This is one of the best albums I've heard so far in 2014...


Comments:Add a Comment 
paradox1216
Emeritus
September 15th 2014


730 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album is streaming here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kclNcd5rH4o



I love love love love love love this record

Gyromania
September 15th 2014


29103 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

good review but this is the letdown of the year imo

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Emeritus
September 15th 2014


6744 Comments


sweet, 'grats on the feature

klap
Staff Reviewer
September 15th 2014


12203 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

agreed w gyro

bloc
September 15th 2014


58852 Comments


Liking this a lot

Digging: Soda Stereo - Dynamo

BMDrummer
September 15th 2014


14646 Comments


good album

ZombicidalMan
September 15th 2014


2476 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

picked this up on vinyl, it's pretty good so far

SCREAM!
September 16th 2014


15756 Comments


Not up to par with the debut but solid work

Ocean of Noise
September 16th 2014


10778 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Average, lazy album from a band with a ton of potential. Good review though, congrats on the feature

indigonowhere
Emeritus
September 16th 2014


10734 Comments


Awesome review, possibly your best so far. What's a good starting point with these guys?

Edit: I now see they only have one other album. I suppose that would be a good place to start..

Bengweeen
September 16th 2014


148 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I don't get all the hate. Of course it's not gonna top the debut, what did you expect? Still a well done album with several really memorable songs. Excellent review too!

paradox1216
Emeritus
September 16th 2014


730 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thank you jacob ^_^



yeah, I would def start with the first one. this one is good to start with too, but it's good to have context. they're both not much over 30 - in fact i think the first one is like 28 minutes or something

climactic
September 16th 2014


22479 Comments


first one is fucking goat

ive only heard maybe half of this, p disappointing so far but still dece

Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 16th 2014


7502 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Edit: I now see they only have one other album. I suppose that would be a good place to start..



I love this guy XD

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
September 16th 2014


15856 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Album really isn't that bad. I've been into these guys since the first album, but I see it is a solid album in its own right. Albeit not as good as their debut.

JWT155
September 16th 2014


14470 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I for one didn't get into the band until recently and I wasn't let down by this release.

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
September 16th 2014


15856 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

A lot of the backlash seems to come from butthurt fanboys of the first album, hense my inclusion of I got into the band from the debut but still really enjoyed this.

JWT155
September 16th 2014


14470 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

The band is 10 years older, expecting 2 guys in their mid 30's to release a record on par with the aggression and angst of when they were in their early 20's is ridiculous. Album is tight, groovy and a fun listen.

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
September 17th 2014


15856 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Agreed hard jtw



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