My reaction to the announced return of Death From Above 1979 (DFA79) was tempered; while I loved the fact that the band was ‘alive’ once again, the prospects of writing a great new album seemed to be slight.
Ten years between albums is a long time and their success the first time around was like catching lightning in a bottle.
Hope persists, however, and so I count myself as one of the many who have held their breath for the arrival of THE PHYSICAL WORLD.
I was even more nervous – confused might be a better word – at the first single, “Trainwreck 1979“. The dance-like rhythms, the voice and the pounding bass may be prototypical DFA79, yet it sounded too poppy (plenty of “ooohh-oooh-ooh’s” will do that). However I really liked it despite the unexpected twist to their sound.
Tensions were eased with the second single, “Government Trash“, as the band’s aggressive punch returned front and center. Still, the pop tinge rears its ugly head on this song.
So what does the remainder of the album hold in store for us blue-faced fans?? Good news, in fact!
Despite the feared pop melodies being laced throughout the tracks, I cannot deny how they compliment each song! They managed to take the pillars of the standard pop song and gloss them over with an edgy punk finish. The tracks may not be as fast or aggressive as the debut, but it gives this album an advantage over its predecessor; YOU’RE A WOMAN, I’M A MACHINE. Its beats may have been intense and attention grabbing, they did get a bit tiresome and repetitive. On the other hand, PHYSICAL WORLD is interesting from beginning to end because the tempos are more varied.
DFA79 stepped out of character again on the album to write a ‘ballad’ (or as close to a ballad as anything they’ve ever put out) called “White Is Red”. While the song’s topic is something you’d expect to find on a Shinedown album, they manage to pack the track with as much of an emotional punch as anything they have recorded.
Closing it all out, the title track is the perfect epic, jam filled monster.
Musically, the band is as tight as they have ever been. However, there are some missteps with the lyrics. For example, even though I love “White Is Red”, the lyrics are a bit second hand at times. Fortunately, the duo’s cohesiveness definitely makes up for some ‘so-so’ moments. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to pick a song here that I do not enjoy.
While not perfect, this album is an exceptional return for Death From Above 1979 after a decade long hiatus. THE PHYSICAL WORLD makes you mad that they held back their talents for 10 years.