Words About Music
Death From Above 1979 “The Physical World
How do you follow up a classic album ten years after the fact? Death From Above 1979 sure know how. This Canadian noise-rock/dance-punk duo put one of the most creative and raucous records of all time with 2004’s “You’re A Woman, I’m a Machine.” A couple years later, though, the duo split. They left behind a lone album and a legacy louder than nearly any other band of the 2000s. Much like many bands that break up, though, DFA1979 eventually re-formed. The band had always talked up their potential second album as the “Kid A” to their debut’s “Pablo Honey.” Now that a second album has actually surfaced, though, it’s plain to see that they were wrong. I’d change the analogy up to say that “The Physical World” is Death From Above’s “Neon Bible.” It may be forgotten in a few year’s time and it may not be quite as good as the debut, but it’s certainly a worthwhile and even great album.
“The Physical World” probably should’ve been a horrible record. It was almost destined to be. In the week’s before its release, drummer/vocalist Sebastien Grainger has made some comments along the lines of “If the critics hate the new record, then too bad. They asked for it. This is what they wanted.” It’s tough to imagine they wanted to make a record just to appease the professional critics, but it doesn’t appear that way at all on the album. In fact, this record could’ve been released a year or two after the first one and it would’ve sounded just right. The only real reason to question anything about this LP is the fact that it’s a “reunion record.”
Thankfully, this album is great. Great not only because it’s better than average, but great because it’s a consistently great record. They changed up their sound just enough to warrant a new release, while still keeping their signature sound alive and energetic. Sebastien and Jesse are ten years older than they were when they recorded their debut, but they’re still equally obsessed with heavy bass riffs, synthesized experimentation, sick drum fills, and deviously catchy songs. My only real complaint is that the lyricism is not quite as strong on this album as it was on their previous one. There’s not a song on here that’s quite like “Blood On Our Hands” or “Romantic Rights” or “Pull Out,” but there’s great songs on this album nonetheless.
Putting out a post-reunion album can be very tricky and not many bands do it well. DFA1979 had the good fortune (as well as musical skill) to put out an album that is nearly on par with their fiercely beloved debut. It may not be held in the same high regard by fans (the debut certainly has more replay value), but “The Physical World” is a worthy member of the band’s criminally short discography.
SCORE – 8.2
FAVORITE TRACKS – Cheap Talk, Virgins, Always On, Crystal Ball, White Is Red, Trainwreck 1979, Government Trash, Gemini, The Physical World